Case Study: Cy Twombly Foundation to Open Museum

In memory of the late mid-century painter Cy Twombly, a foundation he set up has purchased a mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with plans to open a museum and education centre. The Cy Twombly Foundation paid $27.5million for the 5-storey building, located at 19 East 82nd St., a hop and a skip from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although Twombly spent most of his adult life in Rome, he was born and raised in the United States and was considered to be one of the most influential and important American painters in the post-Abstract Impressionist movement.

Read an article from The Wall Street Journal detailing the purchase after the jump.

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal May 31, 2012

Twombly Gets N.Y. Home

Mansion Near Met to Show Artist’s Work


In the 1950s, Cy Twombly, a prominent American artist known for his paintings with large childlike scribbles, lived and worked in New York. Now, nearly a year after his death in Rome, his oeuvre is coming back to a new home on the Upper East Side.


Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street JournalA townhouse on East 82nd Street will showcase works by artist Cy Twombly, who died last year.

On Tuesday, a foundation he set up paid $27.75 million to buy a 25-foot-wide Beaux Arts mansion on East 82nd Street, with a plan to turn the five-story space into an education center and a small museum to celebrate the artist’s work and burnish his reputation.

Mr. Twombly, who died at the age of 83 in July, is now recognized as an important figure in the post-Abstract Impressionist art world, but he is lesser known to the public than two painters he worked closely with in New York—Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

He moved to Rome in 1957, at a time when New York was becoming the center of the art universe. He also worked out of the limelight in Lexington, Va., for much of his career.

“He is not a household name like Picasso or Warhol,” said Ralph Lerner, a lawyer and secretary of the Cy Twombly Foundation. “He is an American painter and deserves an American presence.”

Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesCy Twombly in 2010

Indeed, the foundation’s new American headquarters at 19 E. 82nd St. is in a strategic location to showcase the artist’s work: It is just down the street from the main entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose collection includes some of Mr. Twombly’s sparse sketches and paintings.

The money to pay for the townhouse was raised by the foundation from the sale of Twombly works last year that went to the Museum of Modern Art a few months before the artist died.

Earlier this month, a painting by Mr. Twombly from 1970 sold at Sotheby’s for $17.4 million, a record for the artist. The foundation now controls much of Mr. Twombly’s work, Mr. Lerner said.

The limestone and brick building on 84th Street was built in the 1890s by a developer who sold it to a cigar manufacturer. It was turned into a store, offices and apartments, and then converted back into a single-family mansion in 2005 by developer Solomon Asser, who paid $8 million for the property.

Mr. Asser sold it in 2006 for $25 million to Warren Adelson, a dealer in American art. Mr. Adelson converted the large public rooms on the lower levels with marble floors, wood paneling and high ceilings into a commercial art gallery, according to Nicholas Judson, a broker at Judson Realty.


DPA/Zuma PressMr. Twombly’s ‘Camino Real II’ (2010) at an exhibition.

Mr. Adelson put it on the market in December for $34.8 million, and moved to a smaller space for private showings on Park Avenue. He is also organizing larger shows in conjunction with Christie’s.

Mr. Judson’s company represented the sellers in the two most recent transactions. The foundation was represented by Meg Siegel of Sotheby’s International.

Under the Twombly foundation, the building is due to open on a limited basis beginning later this year as an exhibition and study center.

Nicola Del Roscio, a longtime companion of Mr. Twombly’s and president of the foundation, said in a statement that Mr. Twombly was “a towering figure in American art. It is only fitting that there should be a permanent space in New York dedicated to his achievements.”

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