Katie and Steve get an update from attorney Nicholas O’Donnell about the status of the lawsuit he brought on behalf of certain members of the Berkshire Museum for breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, in relation to the Museum’s sale of much of its valuable art collection to pay for operating and capital expenses. While much of the art has been sold, the members fight on. Nick explains the unusual posture of the case to our listeners.
*Note: On Monday, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ended the Berkshire Museum deaccessioning legal saga by upholding a decision by the court that members of the Berkshire Museum do not have standing to sue the Museum challenging the conduct of its Board of Directors.
With the fall election campaign heating up, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey was in the Berkshires Monday.
Healey, along with local Democratic leaders like Mayor Linda Tyer and State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, appeared at the new Berkshire County Democratic Coordinated Campaign Headquarters on Pittsfield’s North Street to endorse District Attorney candidate Andrea Harrington, who won September’s primary.
Katie and Steve give an update on the first round of auction sales as part of the Berkshire Museum’s court sanctioned deaccessioning plan. They discuss the results of the sales, the museum’s current stance, and where that leaves us (hint: dissatisfied).
Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival. But big decisions lie ahead.
Key decisions lie ahead, Berkshire Museum trustees say
Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle June 6, 2018
PITTSFIELD — Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival.
Katie and Steve update listeners on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision approving the settlement reached between the Attorney General and the Berkshire Museum, which allows the Museum to sell 40 of its most valuable works of art through Sotheby’s with some (minor) conditions. Katie and Steve go over the terms of the settlement and discuss their reservations about the form (if not substance) of this resolution. Since the recording of this bonus episode, it has been reported that the yet to open Lucas Museum in Los Angeles will purchase the painting Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Norman Rockwell’s iconic masterpiece. The rest of the works will be sold gradually at auction until a total of $55 million in proceeds is reached.
Katie and Steve give listeners an update on the Berkshire Museum deaccessioning controversy. The Massachusetts Attorney General and the Museum have reached an agreement, pending approval by the Supreme Judicial Court, permitting sales of up to $55 million with the famous Norman Rockwell painting Shuffleton’s Barbershop going to an undisclosed museum. The Rockwell sons have dropped out of the litigation, but the other plaintiffs oppose the compromise and are still fighting.
In our first full-length episode, we discuss the Berkshire Museum’s controversial decision to sell off 40 works of iconic art from its permanent collection to raise funds to rebrand itself as a science and natural history museum, and build a large endowment. Only after the regional museum had signed an agreement with Sotheby’s auction house to deaccession these works, did the museum announce its plans to the public. Museum and cultural groups, the fine arts community, and certain local constituents have passionately opposed these plans. Other stakeholders and commentators have strongly supported the museum’s efforts to monetize its collection and rebrand. We will discuss both the ethical and legal issues around deaccessioning and the Berkshire Museum’s actions in particular. We are joined by the financial and art-market journalist, Felix Salmon.