May 2, 2021 – If after all the ink spilled on the topic of #deaccessioning, you’re still unclear what the fuss is about, here’s a short summary of the concerns of most art museum directors, excerpted from a presentation I recently made to the Federal Bar Association. We go back to the landmark decision in 1993 by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to restrict the proceeds of art sales to buying new art, the softening of its stance in 2019, and the temporary lifting of restrictions against the use of deaccessioning proceeds by the Association of Art Museum Directors. We recap the swirling external forces bearing down on art museums today regarding the monetization of collections, and I close with the hope that art museums won’t discard obligations to preserving our shared cultural heritage and will instead turn to philanthropy to address pressing needs from DEI to operating shortfalls.
December 5, 2019 – Museums acquire. They keep. They care for their objects. And it always causes a bit of a stir when a Museum decides to sell something from its collection. In May of 2018, at Christie’s in Hong Kong, an 18th century Chinese vase owned by Philbrook Museum of Art sold for $14.5 million. On this episode we chat with Philbrook Director Scott Stulen to learn the real story behind this potentially controversial decision.
October 2, 2018 – 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 relations to the Museum’s sale of much of its valuable art collection to pay for operating and capital expenses.
June 6, 2018 –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
February 26, 2018 – 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.
Bonus Episode: Update on the Berkshire Museum Saga – the AG and Museum Agree to Sales
February 12, 2018 – 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.
Bonus Episode: Can a Museum Sell Your Art?: The Berkshire Museum Saga As a Cautionary Tale
May 17, 2019 – After the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s sale of its Rothko, we discuss the principles that guide deaccessioning in the US and speak to activists about the Whitney vice-chairman’s problematic link to a weapons manufacturer
June 11, 2018 – 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).
April 18, 2018 – 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.
Bonus Episode: Berkshire Museum Update, Settlement Approved
February 13, 2018 – After intervening in the Berkshire Museum’s planned sale of $60-million worth of art works, including paintings by Norman Rockwell, the Massachusetts Attorney General reached a settlement with the museum that allows for the potential sale of all 40 works included in the institution’s original plans.
Meanwhile opponents of the museum’s sale are weighing their options and considering further legal action.
In this edition of the Berkshire Eagle podcast, host Mark Mills speaks with Eagle reporter Larry Parnass about the agreement between the museum and the attorney general, issues that have been raised by the controversy and the museum’s evolving mission, which is to be financed by proceeds from the art sale.
August 31, 2017 – Last month, a new row broke out in the art world around the Berkshire Museum’s decision to auction off 40 works by artists such as Norman Rockwell and Alexander Calder to pay for a renovation and boost their endowment. But this latest controversy represents just one installment in the long-running debate about “deaccessioning,” or the disposal of objects from a museum’s collection.
On this episode, we’re joined by law professor Brian L. Frye who walks us through the history of the regulations surrounding deaccessioning and how it became the hot-button issue it is today. The Artsy Podcast, No. 46: When Museums Sell Their Art, Where Should the Money Go?