On 24 February 1960 Emil Bührle’s widow Charlotte Bührle-Schalk, his son Dr. Dieter Bührle and his daughter Hortense Anda-Bührle established the Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection in Zurich. They transferred a portion of the holdings, comprising 167 paintings and pastels as well as 31 sculptures, to the Foundation based on an arrangement drawn up by the London-based art dealer Arthur Kaufmann, who had been a particularly close associate of Emil Bührle. The division ensured that the structure and integrity which the collector had striven to achieve remained visible in the Foundation. A further 20 paintings and 7 sculptures were handed over to the Foundation for sale.
The Foundation’s collection was installed in a former residential property at Zollikerstrasse 172. It was adjacent to Emil Bührle’s house, and Bührle had long used the first floor of the building to store his pictures and sculptures. The villa, dating from 1886, was now entirely converted into a museum and opened to the public in April 1960. The costs of operation and maintenance were borne by the founders.
The year 1961 saw an exhibition of 78 masterpieces from the collection of Emil Bührle at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and the National Gallery in London. This was followed in 1963 by a smaller presentation at the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne, which once again showed pictures from the Foundation’s holdings as well as the works from the collection that had stayed with the family. A complete scholarly catalogue of the Foundation’s collection (2nd edition 1986) was published in 1973 by Artemis-Verlag, a publishing house owned by the collector’s family. The Foundation’s museum was comprehensively renovated in 1976.
In 1980 Hortense Anda-Bührle took over as President of the Foundation. She organised a collection tour featuring important works from the Foundation and the private holdings to commemorate the centennial of her father’s birth; it travelled to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, the Yokohama Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Arts in London during 1990-91.
Between 1999 and 2002 the collector’s grandson Dr. Christian Bührle was responsible for a series of cabinet exhibitions on the Foundation’s premises that centred around pictures from the collection: Sisley und die Brücke von Hampton Court; Messaline und Toulouse-Lautrec aus Schweizer Sammlungen; Der Blaue Reiter.
In 2002 Dr. Lukas Gloor was entrusted with the management of the Foundation as its director and curator. He edited a three-volume complete catalogue of the collection which was published by Linea d’Ombra in 2004-05. Small exhibitions centring on individual pictures (Van Gogh echt falsch; Mme Cézanne aus dem Besitz von Gertrude Stein) highlighted specific aspects of the collection, and visitor numbers rose to 12,000 a year.
On 10 February 2008, the Foundation’s museum fell victim to an armed robbery. Four key works by Cézanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet were stolen. Whilst the van Gogh and the Monet were retrieved shortly thereafter, the other two remained lost until they were recovered during a major police operation in Belgrade in April 2012.
In 2014, Christian Bührle became President of the Foundation. On 31 May 2015 the Foundation closed the museum at Zollikerstrasse 172, as it had proved impossible to equip it with the security measures necessary for regular opening.
In 2016, the Foundation received 10 important paintings from the collection of Emil Bührle as a bequest by the collector's son, Dr. Dieter Bührle.