Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Dallas Museum of Art, New York University, Deaccessioning, Williams College, Christie's, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Sotheby's, 17 U.S.C. § 106A(a)(3)(A)-(B), Nicholas M. O'Donnell, ARTnews, Jakob Dupont, Sarah Douglas, Brooklyn Museum, Syracuse University, Anne Pasternak, Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, Museum Hue, Dean Craig M. Boise, Andrew Saluti, Agustín Arteaga, Joseph Thompson, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Courtney Aladro, Mark Gold, James Sheehan, Steven Lubar, Brown University, Everson Museum of Art, Emily Stokes-Rees, Cara Starke, Sally Yerkovich, Brian Frye, University of Kentucky College of Law, Silberman Zaretsky, PC, Peter Dean, Randolph College, Andria Derstine, Oberlin College, William Eiland, Carl Van Vechten Art Gallery, Christy Coleman, Ken Turino, Nina del Rio, Hindman Auctions, Michael Shapiro, Allison Whiting, Julia Courtney, Christopher Bedford, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Julia Pelta, Fisher Museum, Thomas Campbell, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Linda Harrison, Glenn D. Lowry, The Museum of Modern Art, Tracey Riese, Melody Kanschat, Museum Leadership Institute, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Betsy Bradley, Mississippi Museum of Art, Michael O’Hare, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, Erin Richardson, Frank & Glory, Smith Green & Gold LLP, New York State Department of Law, Michael Conforti, Amy Whitaker, Stefanie Jandl, Deborah Kass, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Meleko Mokgosi, Wendy Red Star, Carrie Mae Weems, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Roxana Velásquez, The San Diego Museum of Art, University of Georgia Museum of Art, Jamaal Sheats, Fisk University, Kristina Durocher, Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Historic New England, Lawrence Yerdon, Strawbery Banke Museum, Scott Wands, American Association for State and Local History, When is it Okay to Sell the Monet?, Glenn Adamson, Bern University of the Arts, Michelle Millar, The Newark Museum of Art
Robin Pogrebin at the New York Times has written an excellent piece on the news that the Brooklyn Museum intends to sell several works from its collection to raise money. The museum explicitly relies on the pandemic-inspired announcement in April by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) relaxing its industry guidance (and pausing sanctions) with regard to the proceeds of the sale of art and how the resulting proceeds should or should not be used. The parallel announcement by a Syracuse museum that it intends to sell a Jackson Pollock painting in a manner more consistent with the old rules provides an instructive moment to consider what has really changed in six months of a new era.
Topics: The Art Newspaper, Jackson Pollock, Deaccessioning, Boston Globe, Association of Art Museum Directors, Lucas Cranach the Elder, New York Times, AAMD, Berkshire Museum, Apollo Magazine, Brooklyn Museum, Robin Pogrebin, Syracuse University, Anne Pasternak, Lucretia, Courbet, Corot, Red Composition, Lisa Simpson, Donato de’ Bardi, NY Board of Regents, Jeff Jacoby, C. Montgomery Burns, Royal Academy of Arts
I will be speaking to the Copyright Society of the USA on Thursday May 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm at Northeastern University Law School at 250 Dockser Hall – 65 Forsythe Street in Boston. The presentation will discuss the legal and ethical implications of recent sales or proposed sales by museums of works of art in their collections, including the Barnes Foundation, the Corcoran, and the Berkshire Museum. The event is free of charge and open to the public. RSVP is preferred but not required, see attached flyer for details. the event is co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. and Northeastern’s Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity.
Topics: Copyright Society of the U.S.A., Deaccessioning, Corcoran Gallery, Barnes Foundation, Berkshire Museum, Northeastern University Law School
Members of the Berkshire Museum Ask Supreme Judicial Court to Stop Berkshire Museum’s Deaccession Plan
(Boston, MA, February 26, 2018) Sullivan & Worcester LLP clients and Berkshire Museum members James Hatt, Kristin Hatt, and Elizabeth Weinberg filed today a brief with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts asking the state’s highest court not to permit the sale of 40 works of art by the Berkshire Museum. The Berkshire Museum filed a petition on February 9, 2018 asking the SJC to permit deviation from the historical restrictions that would prevent such sale. Today the museum member filed a brief as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.”
Partner Nicholas M. O’Donnell, attorney for the members, said, “My clients are optimistic that the SJC will see through the Berkshire Museum’s petition to deviate from its historical restrictions as unnecessary, and harmful. Such a petition must show that the current state of affairs is impossible or impracticable, and that the requested change is ‘as near as possible’ to the original purpose of the institution. This petition fails to meet either criterion.”
Topics: Deaccessioning, Norman Rockwell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Shuffleton’s Barbershop
Members of the Berkshire Museum Pledge to Continue Fight Against Liquidation of the Museum’s Art Collection
(Boston, MA, February 13, 2018) Sullivan & Worcester LLP clients and Berkshire Museum members James Hatt, Kristin Hatt, and Elizabeth Weinberg sharply denounced today the agreement that was announced Friday evening between the Berkshire Museum and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office to permit the sale of every one of 40 works of art that the members—and AG Healey—sued last year to prevent. Only two weeks after filing a 50-page brief in the Massachusetts Appeals Court that detailed numerous violations of the Trustees’ fiduciary duties and specific restrictions on the 40 works of art, the Attorney General’s office has filed its assent to the Museum’s request to modify its governing charter to permit the immediate sale of Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop to an unnamed buyer, and to allow the sale of the 39 remaining works thereafter without any further oversight of the governance of the Museum.
Topics: Deaccessioning, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Berkshire Museum, Maura Healey
Two wonderful museums recently announced plans to sell major works of art. In one case, some 40 paintings, American masterpieces among them, will be sold at auction. In another, more than 400 photographs will also be sold. The former case has prompted a nationwide outcry, the latter…effectively nothing. The differences and similarities between the two underscore the aspirational rules that govern what is known as “deaccessioning,” but also remind us that principles and the goals they are meant to reach are not always the same thing.
Topics: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Delaware Museum of Art, American Alliance of Museums, Lee Rosenbaum, MoMA, Deaccessioning, AAM, Norman Rockwell, Association of Art Museum Directors, Alexander Calder, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, AAMD, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pittsfield, General Electric, Waconah Park, Berkshire Museum, Housatonic, Lake Onota, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, Zenas Crane, Williamstown, Lenox, North Adams, Mass MoCA, Felix Salmon
We mused recently about (and tried to clarify) the possible tension between the Detroit Institute of Arts’ successful scuttling of any plans to consider selling its collection to satisfy the city’s debts in the Detroit Bankruptcy. The purpose of the post was not guileful: it seemed likely that many readers might be confused about how Detroit could propose to sell artwork when so much coverage had been addressed to the idea of not selling artwork. In fact, the two ideas are entirely consistent with the consensus of museum governance ethics, but we thought it was an occasion to prompt discussion about the policy behind those ethical guidelines. After all, apart from New York, the rules of deaccessioning are not actually law, they are enforced essentially through collective opprobrium. To facilate that discussion, I quoted Donn Zaretsky, a prominent critic of the status quo, for readers to consider on the one hand, against the guidelines themselves on the other hand.
Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Deaccession, Detroit bank, Graham W. J. Beal, Randy Kennedy, Deaccessioning, Van Gogh, Detroit Institute of Arts, DIA, Museums, New York Times, Chagall, Detroit Bankruptcy, Art Law Report
Readers will no doubt be puzzled by the news this week that the Detroit Institute of Arts—fresh off of the Grand Bargain, in which an infusion of donations and fundraising led to the transfer of the collection’s ownership back to the museum and off the table in the context of the Detroit Bankruptcy—is moving ahead with plans to deaccession works of art in its collection, a Van Gogh in particular. There are a number of things going on in this latest development, which need to be distinguished.
Topics: Graham Beal, Deaccession, Delaware Museum of Art, American Alliance of Museums, Donn Zaretzky, Deaccessioning, AAM, Van Gogh, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Association of Art Museum Directors, Museums, Detroit Bankruptcy, AAMD, grand bargain
Corcoran Merger Approved, Cy Prés Ruling Treats Deaccession as Non-Starter in Concluding that Status Quo is Untenable
As reported initially, Judge Robert Okun of the District of Columbia Superior Court allowed yesterday the cy prés petition by the trustees of the Corcoran Gallery and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. The full opinion can be read here. The petition asked to reform the trust of William Corcoran to permit a merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University, a merger that will now proceed. The ruling addresses the financial condition of the Corcoran at length, but what is perhaps most interesting is the court’s acceptance of a central argument made by the Corcoran that selling its artwork to shore up its finances was an unacceptable way to proceed. This adopts the view, espoused most prominently by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), that deaccessioning for anything other than the purchase or care of art is anathema. Right or wrong, that acceptance in this opinion should have long lasting effects. Framing the question in this way was a work of skilled lawyering by the Corcoran’s attorneys, and kudos must go as well to the interveners and their counsel, without whom the other side of the story would have had no advocates at the trial. Those interveners have stated that they do not intend to appeal, meaning the case is over. Jayme McLellan, founder of Save the Corcoran, issued a statement after the ruling that “The Corcoran as we know it is gone. We fought the good fight." Incidentally, in response to our earlier reporting of McLellan’s role, I received an e-mail yesterday from Mimi Carter, the Corcoran’s Vice President, Marketing & Communication. Ms. Carter stated “Jayme McLellan was not fired from the Corcoran. She resigned in 2012, as mentioned on the first day of court hearings, citing differences with leadership. While there was a miscommunication with Ms. McLellan because of a lack of internal systems, due to a diminished staff and finances, she was not offered a contract to teach this coming Fall. Statements of retaliation are simply false.”
Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Middles States Commission on Higher Education, Harry Hopper III, Anne Smith, Deaccession, Kathy Raffa, National Gallery of Art, Chiara Trabucchi, Industrial Economics, Jayme McLellan, William Corcoran, Save the Corcoran, George Washington University, sanctions, Corcoran Merger, University of Maryland, Deaccessioning, Cy Pres, Judge Robert Okun, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, District of Columbia Superior Court, AAM Code of Ethics, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Lauren Stack, Alexander Haas, Paul Johnson, Trusts, Art Institute of Chicago, Dr. Steven Knapp, Corcoran Gallery, Museums, New York Times, Sean O’Connor, Caroline Lacey, MSCHE, Dr. Wallach Loh, Deaccessioning Blog, Art Law Report, Mimi Carter, National Public Radio
Corcoran Cy Prés Trial Wraps Up, Whether Judge Thinks Deaccessioning is Worse than the Alternatives Will Influence Final Result
The two-week trial over the possible reformation of the Corcoran Gallery and the Corcoran College of Art + Design ended last week, with Judge Robert Okun expected to rule by the end of the month.
Topics: Deaccession, National Gallery of Art, Jayme McLellan, Andrew Tulumello, Save the Corcoran, George Washington University, Charles Patrizia, Deaccessioning, Cy Pres, Judge Robert Okun, Corcoran College of Art + Design, William Corcoran¸ Kriston Capps, Trusts, Corcoran Gallery, Museums, Lynn Sures, Peggy Loar, The Atlantic, Corcoran