Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Randolph College News (UPDATED)

Carol Vogel reports in today's New York Times that the board of Randolph College has voted to sell George Bellows’s “Men of the Docks” (1912) and three other paintings this fall at Christie’s. "The auction house estimates that the Bellows alone ... could bring in $25 million to $35 million .... The college’s goal is to raise at least $32 million over all to shore up its endowment and reduce a steep operating deficit." As Christa Desrets explains in the Lynchburg News & Advance, these paintings were not purchased with funds from the Louise Jordan Smith trust (on which see here):

"The college filed legal action in August to determine whether it could sell or share 36 pieces of art ... that were bought from a trust bequeathed in Louise Jordan Smith’s will. None of the four pieces of art to be sold were bought with the trust, [a college spokeswoman] said, so they would not be affected by that action. 'These paintings are without restriction,' she said. 'Two were purchased from the college, and two were gifts. But they don’t have any restrictions on sale.' However, litigation that 11 opponents filed last month in response to the college’s request asks the court to declare that the entirety of the collection is interconnected and should be protected from sale or sharing."

Lee Rosenbaum is not happy ("shame on Randolph College ... for deciding to sell the signature work of its Maier Museum" and "shame on Christie's for abetting this flagrant violation of professional principles of collections stewardship"). Nor is Callen Bair ("a sad way for Randolph to celebrate its museum's centennial") or Richard Lacayo ("a terrible decision").

UPDATE: Lee is now reporting that the director of the college's Maier Museum has resigned.