In a post last week about the proposed Randolph College deaccessioning, I wondered about the exact terms of the bequest at issue. Lee Rosenbaum moved the ball forward on Friday, quoting this "unambiguous" language:
"I devise and bequeath [funds from the relevant trust] to Randolph-Macon Woman's College of Lynchburg, Virginia, to be used from time to time for the Art Department of said College to form a permanent collection of art."
That does seem fairly clear. It's pretty hard to argue that the sale would not be contrary to the donor's wishes -- though, if I was forced to construct an argument, it might be that what the donor wanted was for the school to "form" a permanent collection of art, which it has now done. She didn't say it had to be a permanent collection of any particular size, and if, instead of having a collection worth $40 million (see paragraph 7 of the complaint, which you can read in its entirety here), Randolph ends up with a collection worth, say, $30 million, and has $10 million it can use to alleviate its serious financial problems (see paragraphs 9 and 10 of the complaint), it's hard to see that as the end of the world. It's also worth noting that the school is at least paying lip service to the possibility of "a partnership or joint ownership of some of the [art] with another charitable organization, such as a museum" (complaint paragraph 10).