The Berkshire Museum signed a contract with Sotheby’s removing the most valuable paintings and sculpture without the Pittsfield community’s knowledge or participation in the decision-making process. Leadership ignored repeated requests for a public forum, and there was no time or opportunity to organize a farewell exhibition or keepsake catalogue. Added to the loss are lingering questions as to where the paintings are now located. Sotheby’s is not obliged to release purchaser information, and it is not known whether 15 of these cherished works of art are held in public or private collections.
Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop is the most commercially valuable of the two Rockwell’s gifted to the Museum by the artist for the public to enjoy in perpetuity. It was the crown jewel of the collection and a source of pride, and the most significant loss to the community.