Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I had a chance to read Judge Lyle's decision rejecting the AG's plan for the Fisk art, and what it comes down to is she seems to have remembered that the gift to Fisk may have been intended to benefit Fisk.

Recall that, in her prior decision, she said the Court of Appeals "made no finding of a dual intention by Mrs. O'Keeffe that includes perpetuating the existence of Fisk." Her intent was solely to "enable the public -- in Nashville and the South -- to have the opportunity to study the Collection in order to promote the general study of art."

As I said at the time, this made no sense: "In other words, the intent behind the gift to Fisk was not to benefit Fisk; it was simply -- and only -- to make the Collection available to the public in Nashville and the (true) South."

Judge Lyle now seems to agree. The new decision says "one could argue that by saying the donor's intent was to enable Nashville to have access to the Collection, the Court of Appeals implicitly ruled that was the donor's exclusive intention. By not mentioning Fisk, the Court of Appeals' decision could be read to imply that Fisk, the institution, should not be considered in a plan for the Collection. The Court rejects that argument." She notes that the Collection was placed "deliberate[ly]" with Fisk: O'Keeffe's "connection to Nashville" was Fisk. "It would not be in keeping, then, with the donor's intent to keep the Collection in Nashville at the cost of sacrificing the existence of Fisk University." When O'Keeffe made her gift, "Fisk was not on the brink of closing." "Having the Collection in Nashville only half of the time and reducing Fisk's ownership to a half is not a perfect solution but it does keep Fisk afloat, thereby maintaining and holding true to the law's recognition of the donor's deliberate selection of Fisk for the art."