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Fisk Art Trial To Proceed Without Deal With Local Leaders

A Tennessee judge, citing Fisk University’s refusal to negotiate with a powerful group of Nashville business and political leaders on a local solution for keeping the priceless Stieglitz Collection of art at the school, ruled Wednesday a case over the school’s right to sell all or part of the collection can go to trial as planned February 19.

Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle, told Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, it would be “futile” to continue the case until June, as he had proposed, since the financially troubled school “has made it clear it will not participate…” in the local solution proposal. Fisk argued  the local solution will not solve its financial troubles. The local solution group is led by Nashville banker and publisher T.B. Boyd III and supported by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.  See “Nashville Leaders Emerge to Keep Fisk Art Collection in the City.”

In the trial, Fisk will seek to prove it has sole authority to determine the future of the collection and seek the court’s approval of its plan to sell half interest in the collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas for $30 million. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe opposes the art sale plan. It has asserted Fisk has violated the covenants governing its possession of the collection and the collection should be turned over to the O’Keeffe Museum as heir to O’Keeffe’s estate. O’Keeffe gave the art to Fisk in the late 1940’s.

–Reginald Stuart

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