A glance at Berkshire Museum’s final report to AG on art sale proceeds

A final report by the Berkshire Museum to Attorney General Maura Healey on proceeds from its recent art sales was required in the successful 2018 petition to the Supreme Judicial Court that ended state opposition and allowed up to $55 million in sales.
– Photo by Ben Garver

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD — In a final report to Attorney General Maura Healey, the Berkshire Museum discloses issues flagged as concerns by Healey’s office. The report was required in the successful 2018 petition to the Supreme Judicial Court that ended state opposition and allowed up to $55 million in art sales. The Eagle obtained attorney William F. Lee’s Oct. 18 report through a public records request. Issues include:

THE SALES: Of 40 works removed from the collection, 22 were sold, netting $53.25 million. Eighteen objects were returned from Sotheby’s to Pittsfield but are not yet reaccessioned due to delays and staffing, according to Executive Director Jeff Rodgers.

PROCEEDS: $45 million was invested with Northern Trust Co. based on advice from Portfolio Evaluations Inc.; $5 million is held in an account at Lee Bank for capital projects; and $3.25 million sits in a Lee Bank account to be used only for the good of the collection under terms of the court ruling. Rodgers said the museum plans to draw no more than 3.2 percent from its investment fund in any year.

Newly flush Berkshire Museum seeks public help Appeal follows final accounting to AG’s office on art sale proceeds

The Lost Pleiad statue looms large near the staircase leading to the Ellen Crane Memorial Room at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. In his first Annual Fund appeal since joining the museum as executive director last spring, Jeff Rodgers aims to raise $100,000 – the museum’s first such campaign since it raised $53.25 million by selling 22 pieces from its collection. – Photo by Ben Garver

by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD — With investment income now covering one-third of its budget, the Berkshire Museum is back in supporters’ mailboxes with an upbeat report — and a different kind of “ask.”

The appeal will test public willingness to donate to a nonprofit whose leaders in 2017 opted to close operating deficits by cashing out much of its most valuable works of art.

In his first Annual Fund appeal since joining the museum as executive director last spring, Jeff Rodgers skips what he terms the typical money pitch. It is the first such campaign since the museum raised $53.25 million by selling 22 pieces from its collection.

“This has been anything but a typical year,” Rodgers writes.

Ten Minutes with Berkshire Museum’s new Executive Director

Jeff Rodgers, Executive Director of Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts – Photo by Megan Haley

by Kate Abbott – TownVibe

Jeff Rodgers stands within “She Shapes History.” In celebration of the 100th year since women won the right to vote, the exhibit has gathered local voices who helped to make it happen, from Elizabeth Freeman to Susan B. Anthony. He imagines conversations in the galleries on winter nights over a glass of wine and guides welcoming visitors in museum-hack style. He came to the Berkshire Museum as executive director last spring, after serving as chief operating officer for the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida. He has more than 20 years’ experience in museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.