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A judge has cleared the way for the Berkshire Museum to proceed with the controversial sale of some of the most valuable works in its permanent collection, including two works by Norman Rockwell.
This afternoon, Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini ruled that the plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the museum — including one brought by three of Rockwell’s sons — had not made a sufficiently compelling case to stop the auctioning off of the work, the Berkshire Eagle reported. The first Berkshire Museum works are due to hit the auction block at Sotheby’s in New York on Monday, including the most valuable, Rockwell’s painting “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” (1950), which is expected to bring between $20 and 30 million.
“No doubt many will be disappointed in this outcome,” Judge Agostini wrote in his 25-page decision, “and they may take little comfort knowing that, in their loss, the rights of a charitable board to make thoughtful decisions to steer its charity through troubled times have been vindicated.”
The ruling comes as something of a surprise after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sided with the plaintiffs and raised doubts about the Berkshire Museum’s decision to sell the most valuable works in its collection at auction. In a motion issued last week, Healey’s office had called on the court to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to delay the sale so it could complete its examination.
The Berkshire Museum, an art and science museum located in Pittsfield in western Massachusetts, first announced in July that it planned to deaccession and sell 40 works from its collection at auction to shore up its endowment, fund renovations, and help implement its “New Vision” project. The museum and auction house have since pulled several works acquired before 1932 because, according to the Attorney General’s motion, they violate the terms of the museum’s original charter.
The first batch of works from the museum’s collection is due to go under the hammer on Monday, with other works hitting the auction block at Sotheby’s in five subsequent sales through March 2018. The sales are estimated to bring the Berkshire Museum $50–60 million.
The deaccessioning has been especially controversial because most of the funds generated will go toward operational expenses as the museum shifts its focus. According to the Berkshire Eagle, the institution’s leaders claim that without a major infusion of funds the museum could close within eight years.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…