Court says Fisk University can sell stake in art collection, but blocks it from collecting most of the sale revenue
November 4, 2010
Neither Fisk University’s president nor the state attorney general is happy with a court’s plan to let the school sell its art collection – but block it from collecting most of the sale revenue.
A Nashville chancery court has granted the cash-strapped university permission to sell a half-share in its famed Stieglitz art collection for $30 million – but only on the condition that $20 million of the sale be set aside in a trust to preserve the art if Fisk’s money troubles force the school to close.
Fisk University President Hazel O’Leary has testified that Fisk’s discretionary endowment has been emptied, every building on campus is mortgaged and the school runs a $2 million annual deficit.
Only the sale of a share in the Stieglitz Collection, donated to Fisk 60 years ago by artist Georgia O’Keeffe from her late husband’s art collection, could keep the university afloat, O’Leary argued in court. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., has offered to buy a half-share in the collection and rotate the art between Arkansas and Nashville every four years.
O’Leary is balking at the prospect of giving up two-thirds of that sale revenue.