Parke-Bernet, established in the late 1930s, was the largest auctioneer of fine art in the US. Carlyle Galleries, at 980 Madison Avenue, was custom built for the auction house in 1949. It comprised retail stores, storage vaults, conservation rooms, photography studios, a big auction sales room and six large exhibition galleries, behind an austere facade of limestone blocks.
A 14-foot aluminum sculpture adorns the wall above the entrance. According to The New York Times (1949) the sculpture was meant to symbolise “Venus awakening Manhattan to the importance of art from overseas.”
Sotheby’s acquired Parke-Bernet in 1964. The new Sotheby Parke-Bernet remained in the Madison Avenue building until the 1980s, when Sotheby’s moved to its present building at York Avenue and 72nd Street.