New York Billionaire to Open Private Museum in Chelsea

Does New York really need another museum?

Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III. Courtesy Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III.
Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III. Courtesy Janine and J. Tomilson Hill III.

New York financier and billionaire J. Tomilson Hill has announced plans to open a private museum in Manhattan.

The 6,400-square foot space will be located inside the Getty building, a new Peter Marino-designed development in Chelsea which will also house Lehmann Maupin’s new space.

“We’ve got so much art in storage,” the 68-year-old vice chairman of the Blackstone Group private equity firm told the New York Times. Hill explained that he wants to make his $800-million collection of modern and contemporary art, and Old Masters accessible to the public. But, he hastened to add, he may augment his collection with loans for certain exhibitions.

His collection includes 14 Christopher Wools, four Francis Bacons, 10 Warhols, four Lichtensteins, three Twomblys, five Rubens, and 34 Renaissance and Baroque bronze sculptures. He also owns individual works by Lucio Fontana, Willem de Kooning, Picasso, and Ed Ruscha.

Construction of the new space is already underway. Photo: Montse Zamorano - Architecture Photography via Facebook.

The museum will be housed in Chelsea’s Getty building which is still under construction. Photo: Montse Zamorano – Architecture Photography via Facebook.

“He has great things,” dealer Matthew Marks, who recently sold Hill a Robert Gober sculpture, told the Times.

Hill also hopes that making his collection publicly accessible will help fill a gap in arts education. “They’re cutting out arts programs in the public schools,” he explained. As a result he aims to forge educational partnerships with the Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he is on the board.

On the other hand, he makes no secret about harboring ulterior motives for the establishment of a private museum, which comes with major tax exemptions, as it allows him to deduct the market value of the art, cash, and stock he turns over to his foundation. “I can shelter capital gains,” he stated. “It would be the same as if I gave the art to a museum.”

The space will operate with a free admission policy, and will be open during the week and on Saturdays.


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