Thursday, December 14, 2017

Proposed Rockwell Sale Under Investigation

(Stephan Schuetze/Bild Zeitung via Getty Images, link)
Secret documents reveal that the Berkshire Museum was pressured to sell off their Norman Rockwell originals by a Boston consulting firm. 

For now, the planned liquidation of their most valuable and beloved artwork has been been halted by the Massachusetts Attorney General as the investigation continues.  

Let us hope that Sotheby's will release the Museum from their fees if the Museum decides to call off the sale and raise money the old fashioned way—by showing great art to the community and asking for their support.

More on ArtNet


Susan Krzywicki said...

Prompted by your blog post, I read a bit more online and one point that was raised was the issue of regionalism in the world of blockbusters. Smaller museums like the Berkshire are struggling to remain relevant when their urban core compatriots found in Boston and New York are scooping up all the assets - both works of art and $$$.

Just as Wal-mart and Amazon and Starbucks have created corporate power and homogenization, the art world may be going through this same implosion.

Does that sound familiar to you and your readers?

My Pen Name said...

@Susan that's definitely part of it,also for museum officials the 'problem' of having 40 million + to spend from the sale art work is probably more desirable then trying to squeeze pocket change out of visitors and locals.

Auction houses don't make money unless people are buying and selling, so they are naturally motivated to break up collections like this.

Also for consideration: many modern museum administrators have adapted an 'idealogy' that the 'old' type of museum is 'dead' and that they must be 'relevant' (which means fashionable.

James Gurney said...

@susan and @Pen, I'm still a believer in museums from small cities. They've been the ones to champion the Dinotopia exhibitions, and I've gotten to see how the successful ones are very well connected to their communities, and very willing to take on shows of unusual topics like pirates or skateboard art or comic art.

About the auction houses, @Pen, you're right, they're in the business of selling work, but they don't want to be the bad guy in this, and they definitely don't want to get caught up in legal issues, which is a real possibility here.

I think you're right that there's a line of thinking unfortunately in some museums that they should shift to super graphics and high tech displays and get rid of paintings or taxidermy or even physical objects. Although museums have to keep up with technology, most of the touted new display stuff goes out of date within a decade. I think it's a shame if they lose their connection with tradition or with beautiful and rare objects.