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“The sale of art by the Berkshire Museum was permitted in the state of Massachusetts in defiance of accepted professional practices and this loss attributed to the lack of legal clarity. Massachusetts has set a new precedent allowing the Berkshire Museum to sell art given to the public due to a loophole in legal protections. The AG and MCC identified that new laws are essential to prevent this from happening to another community.”  

Museums, Libraries, Legislators and Citizens – It is our collective responsibility to PROTECT the PUBLIC TRUST!

22 artworks sold at Sotheby's
The Berkshire Museum artworks auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2018

Berkshire Museum Art Sale

1. NORMAN ROCKWELLShuffleton’s Barbershop, painted in 1950.

2. NORMAN ROCKWELLBlacksmith’s Boy–Heel & Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop), painted in 1940.

3. WILLIAM BOUGUEREAULes deux soeurs (La Bourrique), painted in 1884.

4. WILLIAM BOUGUEREAUL’Agneau Nouveau-Né (The Newborn Lamb), painted in 1873.

5. ALBERT BIERSTADTGiant Redwood Trees of California, painted in 1874.

6. FREDERIC CHURCHValley of Santa Isabel, New Granada, painted in 1875.

7. ADRIAEN ISENBRANTAdam and Eve, Bruges circa 1485-1551.

8. ADRIAEN ISENBRANTThe Flight into Egypt, Bruges circa 1485-1551.

9. FRANCIS PICABIAForce Comique, watercolor on paper, executed in 1914.

10. LARGE BLUE AND WHITE ‘DRAGON’ VASE, Qing Dynasty, 18th/Early 19th century.

11. THOMAS MORANThe Last Arrow, painted in 1867

12. CHARLES WILLSON PEALEPortrait of General David Forman, painted in 1784

13. REMBRANDT PEALEGeorge Washington painted in 1795

14. JOHN LA FARGEMagnolia, painted in 1860

15. GEORGE DURRIEHunter in Winter Wood, painted in 1860

16. THOMAS DEWINGThe White Dress, painted in 1921

17. CHARLES DAUBIGNYPaysans allant aux champs (Le Matin) (1817-1878).

18. BENJAMIN WESTDaniel interpreting to Belshazzar the handwriting on the wall, painted in 1775

19. HENRY MOOREThree Seated Women, executed in 1942

20. A TEN-PANEL COROMANDEL ‘BIRTHDAY’ SCREEN, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period, dated Jisi Year, corresponding to 1689

21. ALEXANDER CALDERDancing Torpedo Shape, executed in 1932

22. ALEXANDER CALDERDouble Arc & Sphere, executed circa 1932

“One of the most fundamental and long-standing principles of the museum field is that a collection is held in the public trust and must not be treated as a disposable financial asset. Selling from the collection for purposes such as capital projects or operating funds not only diminishes the core of works available to the public, it erodes the future fundraising ability of museums nationwide. Such a sale sends a message to existing and prospective donors that museums can raise funds by selling parts of their collection, thereby discouraging not only financial supporters, who may feel that their support isn’t needed, but also donors of artworks and artifacts, who may fear that their cherished objects could be sold at any time to the highest bidder to make up for a museum’s budget shortfalls. That cuts to the heart not only of the Berkshire Museum, but every museum in the United States.”

American Alliance of Museums & Association of Art Museum Directors