Home Page

SEE THE 40 ARTWORKS

Rockwell’s ‘Blacksmith’s Boy’ fetches $7 million at auction

By Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, May 23, 2018

Norman Rockwell’s painting of dueling blacksmiths sold Wednesday for $7 million, as the Berkshire Museum cashed out its gift from the artist with the more delicate rap of an auctioneer’s hammer.

The price paid for “Blacksmith’s Boy — Heel and Toe,” not including buyer’s fees, hit the presale low bid estimate of that amount set by Sotheby’s during a sale crowded with Rockwell works.

Read More

 

Protest of Berkshire Museum art sale to return to Sotheby’s

By Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, May 22, 2018

Opponents of Berkshire Museum art sales will again stake out a Manhattan sidewalk, determined to decry what they see as an unethical “monetizing” of the Pittsfield collection.

“We want the public to be aware of it and let other institutions know this is a cautionary tale,” said Hope Davis, of Great Barrington, a spokeswoman for Save the Art-Save the Museum.

Read More

 

Two Berkshire Museum works
fetch combined $1.16 million

By Benjamin Cassidy, Berkshire Eagle, May 14, 2018

NEW YORK — The first two publicly auctioned Berkshire Museum artworks since the announcement of the institution’s “New Vision” project last July have been sold for a combined $1.16 million.

Henry Moore’s “Three Seated Women” and Francis Picabia’s “Force Comique” fetched $240,000 and $920,000 hammer prices, respectively, at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Monday night. The winning bidders, both by phone, were not immediately known.

Read More

 

The Berkshire Museum is an outlier in a changing and thriving arts economy

By Paige Smith, Daily Hampshire Gazette,
May 4, 2018

BOSTON — While Massachusetts cultural institutions are for the most part thriving, the struggles of outliers like the Berkshire Museum have initiated conversations about the right approach to preserving fixtures of the arts economy.

Read More

 

Attorney quits posts with New England group in wake of Berkshire Museum art sale controversy

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle,
May 2, 2018

PITTSFIELD — The local attorney who coached the Berkshire Museum to sell art has quit posts with a regional group, amid fallout from the controversial move.

Mark S. Gold said he resigned as an officer and director with the New England Museum Association, for which he served as an officer and board member.

Read More

 

An olive branch cannot succeed
if it bears no fruit

By Ruth Bass, Sunday Berkshire Eagle,
April 29, 2018

RICHMOND — Fait accompli. The French phrase means “it’s done.” It’s something that is not going to be undone. And it carries the extra weight of describing an action that was complete before anyone affected could question it.

Read More

 

 

(On April 7, this open letter was placed on the Save the Art-Save the Museum social media page. It was to appear in the Berkshire Eagle. Readers were invited to sign if they agreed with it. Within three days, close to 400 people had signed, and names are still being added. The letter has been printed both as a Letter to the Editor and a full-page ad appearing in the Sunday Berkshire Eagle (April 15, 2018). The letter and a complete updated list of signatures can be viewed by clicking on the See Letter with Names button at the bottom of this letter.

Berkshire Eagle Full Page Ad
 

The goal of strengthening the Berkshire Museum could have united the community as a source of local pride, if the Board of Trustees had transparently and actively sought support and alternative ideas from the public. By promoting its great art collection, the museum could have become a valuable engine for Pittsfield’s revitalization and the city’s identity as a vibrant regional arts center.

Read More
 

 

Berkshire Museum lists 13 works, including 2nd Rockwell,
for May auction

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle,
April 10, 2018 9:54pm

PITTSFIELD — Trustees of the Berkshire Museum say they hope to retain two-thirds of the works they can legally sell, acknowledging the “strong feelings” of those who oppose their financial rescue plan.

The museum Tuesday identified 13 works that will be offered at four May auctions at Sotheby’s in New York City. The move came five days after the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County granted the museum’s petition to lift any restrictions and allow it to seek up to $55 million in proceeds under terms worked out with the state Attorney General’s Office.

The list of works to be sold next month includes Norman Rockwell’s “Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop,” meaning that both of the late Berkshire County artist’s heralded scenic paintings — both given by Rockwell to the museum — will leave the Pittsfield museum’s collection.

Read More

 

Berkshire Museum Case:
Selling into the Teeth of Controversy

By Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group,
April 9, 2018

One of the more depressing and distressing aspects of the ongoing saga of the Berkshire Museum’s recalcitrant march to auction, is that the board appears to be wholly ignorant of the significant headwinds they might face in the current marketplace. As such, not only are they sacrificing their greatest treasures on a barely defensible and dubious mandate, but they may well find that the proceeds fall short of their lofty expectations.

Of course, no one can say for certain how the market will react to these works until the ultimate fall of the auctioneer’s gavel, but the history of deaccessions we recount in our forthcoming book illustrates that almost every prior sale that occurred under a similar cloud of controversy yielded either pretty dismal results to outright spectacular failures.

Read More

 

Photo by Catherine Ryan © 2018

Justice failed
the Berkshire community

By Lynn Villency Cohen, The Berkshire Eagle,
April 8, 2018 1:03pm

STOCKBRIDGE  – When Justice Lowy peered down from his high court seat at the hearing to address briefs filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys opposed to deaccessioning the art at the Berkshire Museum, his skepticism over management of the museum could not go unnoticed. “Why is there a $1.2 million (yearly) deficit? What’s been going on here?”, a seemingly dismayed Justice Lowy asked.

After a 10-month legal drama, it has been his job to render final judgment on whether an agreement to sell in excess of $55 million worth of art should move forward, put forth by the Massachusetts attorney general and the Berkshire Museum. He issued that decision in a terse five page judgment with a full blessing of the agreement and sale of the entire cache of publicly held art works. To those who hoped he would modify this very lopsided agreement that had been hashed out by the attorney general in a head-spinning 11th hour turn around from strong legal adversary to united ally, it is a time of great disappointment.

Read More

 

SJC ruling clears Berkshire Museum to sell art works

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle,
April 5, 2018 1:03pm

PITTSFIELD – The Berkshire Museum can sell works of art and raise up to $55 million to keep its doors open and to pursue a new approach to the use of its collection, a justice with the state’s top court ruled Thursday morning.

Justice David A. Lowy of the Supreme Judicial Court of Suffolk County approved the petition submitted in February by the museum and backed by Attorney General Maura Healey.

The sales can now proceed without any of the additional independent oversight sought by one group of sale opponents.

“Based on the Attorney General’s investigation into the sale and her assent to the requested relief, the Museum has satisfied its burden of establishing that it has become impossible or impracticable to administer the Museum strictly in accordance with its charitable purpose,” Lowy wrote, “thus entitling the Museum to relief.”

Read More

 

Lessons from St. Petersburg about
the Berkshire Museum

By Leslie Ferrin, April 4, 2018

TO THE EDITOR: This is a post from St. Petersburg, Russia. During the siege of Leningrad during WWII, millions died and the majority of one of the greatest museums of the world, the Hermitage was nearly destroyed. The people and food supplies were bombed, starvation incurred and war surrounded the city but despite this, while their treasures stolen and destroyed, their collections buildings raided, they were not conquered by Hitler or Napoleon. Forgive me if I don’t have all the facts perfectly but this story told by the tour guides still brings tears to their eyes and their words struggle while emotions are caught in their throats.

I am traveling with German-Americans and working with Europeans — they have not forgotten. They all remember their parents stories, speak of their grandparents direct experience and stand proudly in these rooms that still show evidence of destruction. The restoration is remarkable. There is such pride and devotion to their history and their love of culture, objects, paintings and their architecture. It is the lifeblood of their “cultural tourism” and “creative economy”.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED: Despite the continuing destruction of cultural artifacts in war, ongoing now by our own and other forces in the Middle East and the world — the citizens, the everyday people who care for these objects, the proud residents of these cities — would never willfully allow the removal of cultural heritage purely in exchange for money, let alone to install touch screens or pay for public education programs to supplement failing schools.

What has happened to our community? Why would the board of trustees of the Berkshire Museum agree and why would our laws allow them to sell the artistic heritage of the Berkshires? What gives these individuals the right — without even asking the membership, the community — to spend thousands on a legal challenge to find a work-around to public trust? What has our community come to that a set of people, without conferring with art professionals, be allowed to send the collection to auction, the collection built on generosity and philanthropy, and trade the foundation of the museum, betray the intentions of the gifts, the charter, in process, destroy the trust and forego responsibility of preservation of the very best our community has to offer itself and its visitors, in exchange for a plan to install touch screens and make undefined architectural changes to a historic building?

If the Berkshire Museum succeeds in selling their finest artworks, what can we say? The rest of the world fights for freedom of speech, cultural heritage, regional identity, but somehow our community has given over power to a board who has decided to toss it away.

If the people of St. Petersburg and so many other war torn regions fight to keep their art, architecture and culture in tact — what is happening to us in the Berkshires?

THIS POST: Submitted after a day at the Hermitage — one of the greatest, world class museums, in a city that works hard, struggles to preserve and share with the world, its priceless collection — despite past and current, political and economic challenges.

This is why it’s important to SAVE THE ART — SAVE THE MUSEUM
— from St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

Photo by Catherine Ryan ©2018

Why Did the Attorney General Cave in Berkshire Museum Case? My Q&A with the Rockwells’ Lawyer

By Lee Rosenbaum, Culture Grrl , March 21, 2018

Those, like me, who were caught off-guard by the astonishing deal (now awaiting court validation) cut last month by the Berkshire Museum and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey feel justifiably blindsided by the AG’s about-face. With scant explanation, she pivoted from a seemingly adversarial stance towards the museum’s deaccessions of the cream of its collection to acceptance of the shameful sell-offs, notwithstanding the fact that they would run afoul of professional standards and would violate what the AG had deemed to be restrictions prohibiting sales of about half of the 40 deaccessioned works.

Read More

 

Photo by Catherine Ryan ©2018

Michael Keating, an attorney representing a group of residents opposing the Berkshire Museum’s proposed art sale, addresses Justice David Lowy on Tuesday, during a Supreme Judicial Court hearing on the matter.

At Berkshire Museum art sale hearing, both sides find reason for hope

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, March 20, 2018 6:57pm

BOSTON – The jurist able to greenlight Berkshire Museum art sales gave both the institution and its critics reason for hope in a one-hour hearing Tuesday.

Justice David A. Lowy said that sentiment aside, the essential question before him — in the museum’s petition to sell up to 40 works of art — is whether it would be “impracticable” for the 115-year-old Pittsfield museum to continue without an influx of $55 million.

Read More

 

Berkshire Museum Trustees March 20, 2018 at Massachusetts Supreme Court (front row far left Director Van Shields seated next to Trustees Chair Elizabeth McGraw). ©2018 Photo by Catherine Ryan

Justice Lowy to Berkshire Museum attorney Lee at Massachusetts Supreme Court: “So in other words,
I have to tell you, I’m watching two different movies.”

By Catherine, GoodMorningGloucester, March 22, 2018

BOSTON – In 2017, the Berkshire Museum was sued multiple times because of the possible sales of 40 works of art at public auctions. The art has long left the building. The winning consignor, Sotheby’s auction house, received all property prior to the 2017 public announcement from museum leadership blowing its “New Vision” horn. The art remains on hold at Sotheby’s.

At high noon on March 20, 2018, in Courtroom 2 of the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, Justice David Lowy presided over the ongoing Berkshire Museum deaccession litigation. Four attorneys, two for each side, were summoned before the Massachusetts Supreme Court to argue positions. Justice Lowy began the hearing by addressing the elephant in the room. He announced that because the Attorney General Office and the Berkshire Museum, former adversaries, petitioned the court together for necessary relief, he thought it was important to hear opposing views. Therefore, he invited amici to present their arguments, too.

Read More

 

John Adams Courthouse in Boston. Photo by Ken Green ©2018

As Closely Watched Case Nears Possible End, Lawyers Duel Over Berkshire Museum Sales in Massachusetts Supreme Court

by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 3/20/18 5:15 PM

BOSTON – The battle over the Berkshire Museum’s controversial plan to sell artworks from its collection, including two important Norman Rockwell paintings, in order to pursue what its leadership terms a New Vision, has been long and grinding.

But on Tuesday, at the John Adams Courthouse in downtown Boston, the fight may have finally entered its final round. At a hearing in the afternoon, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the museum asked Justice David Lowy of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to sign off on a deal they had previously reached, while attorneys for plaintiffs who had filed to block the sell-off made a last-ditch attempt to have the agreement rejected, scaled back, or modified.

Read More

 

Fate Of Berkshire Museum Artwork Rests With State’s High Court

by Maria Garcia, wbur 90.9, The ARTery March 20, 2018

BOSTON – Residents opposed to the sale of artwork by the Berkshire Museum, in a final attempt, asked the state Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday to stop the transaction, or at the very least appoint a museum management expert to oversee the process.

The case is a precedent-setting dispute that could break an essential tenet of art stewardship for museums across the United States.

Read More

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says money donated to her political campaign by lawyers of WilmerHale, the powerful Boston firm that fought Healey’s office for months over its investigation of the Berkshire Museum’s proposed art sale, did not affect how her office pursued or resolved the museum case.

Healey’s links to Berkshire Museum law firm prompt questions

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle,
March 20, 2018 9:33pm

PITTSFIELD – As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Maura Healey and her staff routinely face off against private law firms.

Rarely do they know their adversaries as well as they do the lawyers of WilmerHale, the powerful Boston firm that fought Healey’s office for months over its investigation of the Berkshire Museum’s proposed art sale.

Though WilmerHale attorneys filled court briefs expressing scorn for Healey’s probe — rapping its “languid pace” and “meritless claims” — they have, over several years, donated more than six times as much to her political campaign, on average, than any other top Boston firm, according to a review of public documents by The Eagle. As of March 8, their giving totaled $165,000.

Read More

 

After consultation with counsel, I submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Judicial Court of Suffolk County in the proceedings related to the Berkshire Museum case held this afternoon. I thought I would share the contents as this is now part of the court record.

Amicus Brief –
Berkshire Museum Case

By Martin Gammon, March 20, 2018

STATEMENT – I am the former director of Museum Services at Bonhams auction house, and have for the last 17 years worked with dozens of museums on deaccession reviews. I have been a sponsor and featured speaker at the AAM, AAMD, AAMC, AAMG and Museum Trustee Association meetings for over a decade. I am also the author of the first critical history of deaccessions by museums since the 18th century, which is forthcoming next month by MIT Press, Deaccessioning and its Discontents: A Critical History. On the basis of this professional experience, I formed an independent art advisory firm to counsel museums, trustees and curators on the prudential steps necessary for ethically navigating challenging deaccession reviews.

Read More

 

Detail of View of the Valley of Santa Ysabel, New Granada by Frederick Church, 1875. One of the 40  best of the Berkshire Museum art collection on the Sotheby’s auction block.

Martin Gammon: A New Vision plan: Museum, circa 1937

By Martin Gammon, The Berkshire Eagle,
March 16, 2018 6:00pm

SAN FRANCISCO — It is illuminating perhaps that almost 80 years to the day before the Berkshire Museum released a joint press release with Sotheby’s announcing its “New Vision” plan of July 12, 2017, the museum had held another major celebration of an alternative vision plan at the museum on June 25, 1937, which was widely reported in U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times (“Pittsfield is host at museum fete” June 26, 1937).

The occasion was a formal celebration of an alternative vision plan of an earlier era, which marked the opening of the newly designed “Ellen Crane Memorial Room” and the new auditorium on the first floor, which ingeniously recaptured what once was a narrow courtyard at the center of the building into a newly integrated whole for additional exhibition space.

Read More

 

 

 

Click here to see the 40 works in greater detail

 

Please help fund the legal action and public information. Any donation, large or small, makes a difference. If you would like to mail a check, please use the above mailing address. Even a modest contribution will be evidence of our large groundswell of support. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Please Donate
 

 

Sign Our Petition
 

LETTERS AND OPINION

Questioning museum critic’s haughty decrees – Franklin A. Fisher, Pittsfield, 5/23/18

Cheerleaders for ‘New Vision’ that will be anything but – Charles Giuliano, North Adams, 5/21/18 – The writer is publisher/editor of Berkshire Fine Arts.

The Berkshire Eagle Opinion: Healing wounds from Berkshire Museum art sale – 5/18/18

Sad museum spectacle is blow to Berkshires – Steve Dew, Williamstown, 5/18/18

Museum clearly violated intentions of Zenas Crane – Linda Lykkebak, Orlando, FL 5/13/18 – The writer was born
and grew up in Pittsfield.

Heartbreaking loss of Hudson River paintings – Bill Foster, Annapolis, Md., 5/10/18

Save the Art’s questions for the museum – Carol Diehl and Rosemary Starace, Pittsfield, 5/3/18 – Carol Diehl of Housatonic and Rosemary Starace of Pittsfield write for SAVE THE ART — SAVE THE MUSEUM.

Waiting for answers from AG on art sale – Robert Gorden, Becket, MA, 5/3/18

‘Shaftsbury’ embodied ‘new vision’
– by Carole Owens, Stockbridge, MA, 5/2/18, – Carole Owens is a Berkshire writer and historian.

Where art forgeries meet their match
– Pulse.com

James Moore: Museum’s violation of trust will have far-reaching impact
– by James Moore, Albuquerque, NM, 4/30/18, – James Moore is a trustee, Wichita Art Museum; coordinator, Art History program, Toledo Museum of Art; lecturer, Adjunct Faculty, Honors College, University of New Mexico; Collections Committee, National Hispanic Cultural Center; Director Emeritus, The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.

An olive branch cannot succeed if it bears no fruit – by Ruth Bass, Richmond, MA, 4/29/18

Museum trustees, city will lose this war – Sally White, Williamstown, 4/23/18

Museum devolving into a community center – Peter Dudek, Windsor, MA, 4/19/18, The writer teaches sculpture at the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College in New York City.

Art sale a Pyrrhic victory – Patricia Ryan, Great Barrington, MA, 4/19/18

Enough already with the bashing of museum – Isabelle Kaplan, Pittsfield, 4/19/18

The Berkshire Museum saga is headed toward a happy ending – by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Columnist, 4/18/18

Museum disgrace must lead to resignations – Michael Paul Richard & Peggy Richard, New Marlborough, 4/17/18

Legal system has spoken in favor of museum plan – Barbara Crochiere Roberts, Pittsfield 4/17/18

Loss of museum’s art conflicts with cultural goals – E. J. Johnson, Adams (The writer is the Amos Lawrence Professor of Art, emeritus, at Williams College) 4/16/18

Damage to museum, city will not be easily repaired – Margaret Heilbrun, Grier Horner, Martha Lenz, John Townes, etc… 4/13/18

Museum decision frees barbarians to pillage – Jonas Dovydenas,
Lenox, MA, 4/13/18

Bouguereau’s inspirational vision is evidently lost. – Regina Mason, Pittsfield, MA, 4/13/18

Kaye-Moses column says it all on art sale – Judith Leach, Pittsfield, MA, 4/13/18

Supporter of Museum is offended and heartsick – R.H. Rice, Pittsfield, 4/12/18

Stop Treating the Berkshire Museum as a Sacred Space for Masterpieces
– by Christopher Marcisz, Hyperallergic, 4/12/18

Art on a barren terrain 
by Linda Kaye-Moses, 4/11/18

Bringing back the art offers new opportunities – Carol Diehl, Housatonic, 4/11/18

Local history lost through art sale
Alice Nathan, Irving Marks, Lee, 4/10/18

Museum supporter betrayed by sale
Ann G. Spadafora, Becket, 4/10/18

Museum board should have appealed to public Celia deG Kittredge,
Tyringham, 4/8/18

Justice failed the Berkshire community
– Lynn Villency Cohen, Stockbridge, 4/8/18

Museum’s ‘victory’ may be short-lived
– Patricia Spaniol, Stephentown, NY, 4/6/18

Alan Chartock | I, Publius: Coffee warnings unheeded, and other random musings – by Alan Chartock,
Great Barrington, 4/6/18

The Berkshire Museum Case:
A Time for Reflection
– by Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 4/6/18

Lessons from St. Petersburg about the Berkshire Museum – by Leslie Ferrin, Cummington, MA 4/4/18

Expert provides voice for museum donors – Margaret M. Roussin,
Hinsdale, MA, 3/26/18

Crane should continue to live on in museum – Michael Morin,
Newton, MA, 3/19/18

Crane gifts to museum would be painful loss – David Peter Moser,
Panama City, FL, 3/13/18

Museum’s ‘New Vision’ not what youth need – Robert Cherdack,
Ashfield, MA 3/10/18

Why are trustees insistent on shufflin
off Rockwells?
– Dolores Darby, Wendell, NC, 3/8/18

Community must demand end to museum art sale – Linda Lykkebak, Orlando, FL, 3/5/18

Sale would devastate potential cultural corridor – Sharon Gregory, Great Barrington, MA, 2/28/18

I Publius: ‘Compromise’ on art dispute fails the smell test – Alan Chartock 2/16/18

Protect our common property at the museum – James Abruzzo, Lee, MA, 12/11/17

An appeal to Berkshire Museum’s board – Kevin Sprague, 11/25/17

The ‘Alternate Vision’ for Berkshire Museum – by Timothy Cahill, 9/29/17

 

Letters to the Editor

 

LAWSUITS FILED

SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
for Suffolk County Case Docket

BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE MARTIN GAMMON – 3/20/18

Response of the Attorney General to BRIEFS OF AMICI CURIAE – 3/6/18

KEATING AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF – 2/28/18

BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE James Hatt, Kristin Hatt, and Elizabeth Weinberg. Nicholas O’Donnell, lawyer for the Hatt party, has filed a brilliant brief to the MA Supreme Judicial Court. 2/26/18

Rockwell sons drop Berkshire Museum suit; other plaintiffs file with SJC
– Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle
2/15/18

Members of the Berkshire Museum Pledge to Continue Fight Against Liquidation of the Museum’s Art Collection – by Nicholas O’Donnell, 2/13/18

AGO and Museum Terms of Agreement – 2/9/18

Members of Berkshire Museum File Suit Seeking Injunction Against Sale of Art Collection  – by Nicholas O’Donnell, 10/26/17

Foley Hoag Seeks Temporary Restraining Order Against Trustees of the Berkshire Museum to Prevent Sale of Significant Artwork
 – by Foley Hoag, 10/20/17

Click on the blue button below to read all the legal filings as they were issued by the courts.

 

Legal Filings
 

 

RECENT NEWS

Protest of Berkshire Museum art sale to return to Sotheby’s – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/22/18

12 Crucial Takeaways From Last Week’s $1.9 Billion New York Auction Cycle. From the biggest flop to the best buy, here are our parting observations from last week’s auction marathon.
– artnet News, 5/21/18

Auction Preview — Analytical Insights — Sotheby’s NEW YORK: European Art — May 22, 2018 – by Blouin Artinfo, 5/21/18

Calder Foundation Buys Berkshire Mobile – artnet news, 5/21/18

Baltimore Museum Says Goodbye Warhol, Hello Younger, More Diverse Collection – by Andrew Limbong,
NPR Illinois, 5/19/18

Berkshire Museum’s Calder sculpture back in the family – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/17/18

Massachusetts museum’s Calder sculpture sold at auction
– by The Associated Press,

Rockwell work at center of dispute going back on display – News Channel 13, 5/17/18

Rockwell Painting At Center Of Controversial Berkshire Museum Art Sale To Stay In Mass. Until At Least 2020 – by Maria Garcia, WBUR / The ARTery, 5/17/18

Activists Gather for a Gloomy Vigil Outside of Sotheby’s to Protest First Sale of Berkshire Museum Works
– by Caroline Goldstein, artnet news,
5/15/18

1st 2 Berkshire Museum pieces sold at auction – by the Associated Press, The Seattle Times, 5/17/18
The Seattle Times, 5/15/18

Two Berkshire Museum works fetch combined $1.16 million – by Benjamin Cassidy, Berkshire Eagle, 5/14/18

$157 Million for a Modigliani Raises Hardly Any Eyebrows – by Robin Pogrebin and Scott Reyburn, The New York Times/Art & Design, 5/14/18

Sotheby’s Sells Modigliani Nude for a Record $157 Million – by Kelly Crow, The Wall Street Journal, 5/14/18

Modigliani’s Reclining Nude Sells for $157.2 Million – by Katya Kazakina, Bloomberg/Art, 5/14/18

Berkshire Group Brings Museum Sale Protest To NYC – Josh Landes, WAMC Public Radio, 5/14/18

First Two Berkshire Museum Items Attract $1.4 Million – Adam Frenier, NE Public Radio, 5/14/18

1st Berkshire Museum artwork sold at Sotheby’s auction fetches $1.16 million – MASSLIVE, 5/14/18

Part of Berkshire Museum’s art collection heads to auction block – News Channel 13, 5/14/18

Protest Planned Outside Sotheby’s Over Berkshire Museum Art Sales – ArtfixDaliy News, 5/12/18

First Berkshire Museum Art Slated For Auction – by Adam Frenier, New England Public Radio, 5/11/18

The Berkshire Museum is an outlier in a changing and thriving arts economy
– by Paige Smith, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 5/5/18

Attorney quits posts with New England group in wake of Berkshire Museum art sale controversy – by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 5/2/18

Pizza, eggs and ice cream: have alternative museums gone too far?
– by Nadja Sayej, the guardian/Art
and Design, 5/2/18

CONNECTIONS: Purloined paintings, vanishing legacy – by Carole Owens, theBerkshireedge, 5/1/18

Berkshire Fire Sale Degrades Donor Intent – by Scott Walter, Capital Research Center, 4/30/18

Massachusetts Cultural Council mulls return of suspended grant to Berkshire Museum – by Larry Parnass,
Berkshire Eagle, 4/21/18

Artwork from La Salle University Collection Hits the Auction Block – ARTFIXdaily, 4/18/18

Berkshire Museum Case: Be Still my beating heart!

What Is a ‘Narrative Art Museum’?
6 Things to Expect From George Lucas’s New LA Museum
– Sarah Cascone, artnet news, 4/17/18

Berkshire Museum Case: What Disingenuous Claptrap! (II) – Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 4/15/18

‘Shuffleton’s’ Sold: – by Adam Frenier, The Short List NPR ONE, 4/14/18

Rockwell Work Sold To LA Museum
– by Josh Landes, WAMC, 4/12/18

Sotheby’s AUCTIONS Work from the Berkshire Museum Collection – 4/12/18

Lucas Museum Announces Acquisition of Norman Rockwell’s ‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ – 4/1212/18

Rockwell’s ‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ Sold To Lucas Museum In LA
– Adam Frenier, NEPR, 4/12/18

Berkshire Museum Case: What Disingenuous Claptrap! – Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 4/11/18

Lucas museum buys Rockwell’s ‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ – by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 4/11/18

Lucas Museum Comes Forward as Buyer of Rockwell Painting
– by Jori Finkl, New York Times, 4/11/18

Lucas Museum Revealed as Buyer of Prized Norman Rockwell Painting – ARTFORUM, 4/11/18

‘Star Wars’ creator’s museum buys Rockwell masterpiece – LancasterOnline, 4/11/18

Rockwell’s ‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ Sold To Lucas Museum In L.A. – by Adam Frenier, nprONE, 4/11/18

Berkshire Museum Art Auctions Slated To Begin In May – by Adam Frenier, WNPR, 4/11/18

Berkshire Museum lists 13 works, including 2nd Rockwell, for May auction – by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 4/11/18

Lucas Museum Reveals It Purchased Berkshire Museum’s Prized Norman Rockwell – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 4/11/18

‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas’ museum buys Rockwell masterpiece – by AP, Chicago Sun Times, 4/11/18

Lucas Museum Acquires Norman Rockwell Painting from Berkshire Museum – ArtfixDaily, 4/11/18

Berkshire Museum Case: Selling into the Teeth of Controversy – Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 4/9/18

Stress of Art Sale issue winnows Berkshire Museum board
– by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 4/7/18

Court Ruling Paves Way For Berkshire Museum Art Sale – by Andy McKeever, iBerkshire, 4/6/18

Berkshire Museum’s Green Light To Sell Artwork Meets With Disappointment – Alden Bourne, NPR ONE, 4/6/18

Judge Rules for Berkshire Museum Sales of Norman Rockwell, Other Artworks – ARTFIXdaily, 4/6/18

BERKSHIRE MUSEUM WINS LEGAL BATTLE OVER PLAN TO SELL ARTWORKS – ARTFORUM
4/6/18 at 7:36am

WHAT A LOW BLOW: JUSTICE LOWY CLEARS CONTESTED BERKSHIRE MUSEUM ART FOR AUCTION
– by Catherine Ryan, Good Morning Gloucester Blog, 4/5/18

State Judge Upholds Berkshire Museum Sale of up to 40 Artworks
– by Steve Dubb, NPQ, 4/5/18

Judge Allows Berkshire Museum to Sell Rockwell Painting and Other Works
– by Colin Moynihan, New York Times ARTS, 4/5/18

Berkshire Museum to sell art – timesunion, 4/5/18

Crane Stationery sold to Mohawk Fine Papers in New York – by Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle,
4/5/18 at 6:57pm

Court OKs Berkshire Museum Plan to Sell Art by Calder, Bierstadt, Picabia, and Others – by Benjamin Sutton, Hyperallergic, 4/5/18

Berkshire Museum hails SJC ruling allowing it to sell art works – by Ray Kelly, MASSLIVE, 4/5/18

Berkshire Museum Sell-Off Approved by Top Massachusetts Court, Ending Lengthy Legal Battle – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 4/5/18 at 4:18pm

Court Ruling Confirms Berkshire Museum Can Sell Art – Josh Landes, WAMC Northeast Report, 4/5/18

Mass High Court Says Berkshire Museum’s Contentious Art Sale Could Go Forward –  by Alanna Durkin Richer, The ARTery, WBUR, 4/5/18

Judge gives green light to contentious museum art sale – by Alanna Durkin Richer, Associated Press, 4/5/18

SJC ruling clears Berkshire Museum to sell art works – Larry Parnass,
Berkshire Eagle, 4/5/18, 1:03pm

Martin Gammon: A New Vision plan: Museum, circa 1937 – by Martin Gammon, Berkshire Eagle, 3/16/18

Hearing Set on Berkshire Museum Sales in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court – Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 3/15/18

SJC sets Tuesday hearing on Berkshire Museum art sale – Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 3/15/18

Museum ‘compromise’ is a bad deal for Berkshire County – Opinion, Donald A. MacGillis, Boston Globe, 3/14/18

What will justice Lowy decide and the room where it happens. One last stop for Berkshire Museum docket SJ-2018-065 at John Adams courthouse #BostonMA supreme court – Good Morning Gloucester Blog by Catherine, 3/12/18

Berkshire Museum, AG respond to art sale opponents in SJC filings
– Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 3/6/18

Museum, AG to rebut ‘friend of court’ briefs in art sale case – Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle 3/3/18

‘Special Master’ urged to oversee Berkshire Museum finances, changes – Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle 2/27/18

Members of the Berkshire Museum Ask Supreme Judicial Court to Stop Berkshire Museum’s Deaccession Plan – by Nicholas O’Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester 2/26/18

Berkshire Eagle Podcast | S02 Ep5: Settlement with Attorney General Gives Berkshire Museum Nearly All It Sought, 2/14/18

Stop Measuring The Arts In Merely Financial Terms, Says MassArt President – Commentary by David Nelson, WBUR 2/13/18

Can a Museum Sell Your Art? The Berkshire Museum Saga As a Cautionary Tale – The Art Law Podcast, 2/12/18

Lynn Villency Cohen: Assessing AG-museum accord – Lynn Villency Cohen 2/12/18

AG’s legal options limited in Berkshire Museum case; art sale opponents regroup – Larry Parnass,
Berkshire Eagle 2/11/18

‘Shuffleton’s Barbershop’ to be sold to U.S. museum; will be shown at Rockwell Museum – Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, 2/9/18

Berkshire Debacle: The Attorney General Caves – by Lee Rosenbaum, Culture Grrl, 2/9/18

Massachusetts Agrees to Allow Berkshire Museum to Sell Its Art
– Colin Moynihan Arts/New York Times
2/9/18

After Months of Gridlock, the Berkshire Museum and Attorney General Finally Reach an Agreement on Art Sale – Eileen Kinsella, artnetnews, 2/9/18

Art Museum Directors Statement of Negotiated Agreement in Berkshire Museum Case, – New York 2/9/18

Gallery Chronicle – by James Panero of The New Criterion, February 2018

Berkshire Museum Victory: Massachusetts Attorney General Agrees to Art Sales, With Rockwell Going to Public Institution, Some Conditions, – artnews, Andrew Russeth

Secret Documents Reveal How the Berkshire Museum Manipulated Its Board Into Liquidating Its Collection, – artnet News, Felix Salmon

Selling off paintings to keep admission prices low ignores museums’ mission, – San Francisco Chronicle, Charles Desmaris

Derision for Admission Revision: Parsing the Metropolitan Museum’s New Mandatory Fees, – Culturgrrl, Lee Rosenbaum

3 Lenox residents appeal local judge’s ruling in Berkshire Museum art sale, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

Vision Quest: The Berkshire Museum Will Stop at Nothing to Sell Its Art, Including a Masterpiece by Norman Rockwell
, – Artnews, Andrew Russeth

Dozens protest art sale, celebrate temporary halt,  – CBS 6 News WRGB Albany

Appeals court justice stops art sale, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

Highlights of AG’s argument to block Berkshire Museum art sale, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

The Berserk Battle Over the Berkshire Museum and Its Art Collection, – Hyperallergic, Felix Salmon

Attorney General’s Office files emergency motion in Berkshire Museum suit, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

10 artful questions: A primer on Berkshire Museum’s legal issues, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

Financial concerns expressed should Berkshire Museum art sale be delayed, – Berkshire Eagle, Larry Parnass

Peabody Essex Museum Directors Challenge Berkshire Museum Not To Destroy The Public’s Trust, WBUR

Berkshire Museum: ‘Emergency overstated,’ nonprofit expert says
– by Carrie Saldo, Berkshire Eagle 9/1/17

 

 

 

 IT ALL STARTED ON JULY 12, 2017 

The Berkshire Museum Announced…

It would be selling 40 works of art from their collection to fund their endowment, capital improvements, and to pay down existing debt.

Community members, museum professionals, and national professional organizations have asked that this sale be paused and alternate approaches considered. The museum has declined to do so. The first round of artworks are slated to go to auction on November 13th, 2017.

UPDATE: As of November 10, 2017 from the Massachusetts Appellate Court

After reviewing the parties’ submissions, the request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the defendant, Trustees of the Berkshire Museum from selling, auctioning, or otherwise disposing of any of the artworks that have been listed for auction commencing on November 13, 2017, is allowed. The balance of the risk of irreparable harm to the petitioner and the respondent in light of each party’s chance of success on the merits weighs in favor of the petitioner. Packaging Industries Group, Inc. v. Cheney, 380 Mass. 609, 615-617 (1980). The injunction shall expire on December 11, 2017. Prior to the expiration of the injunction, the Attorney General’s Office may move to extend the injunction with a date certain by which the investigation will be completed. (Trainor, J.). Notice/attest/Agostini, J.

Read Letter to Trustees

 HOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT THIS SITUATION? 

The “compromise” agreement between Attorney General Maura Healey and the Berkshire Museum is flawed. It flouts all standards of museum best practices and fails to honor the Berkshire Museum’s duty to the community’s cultural past or its future generations to enjoy. By leaving intact the current Museum leadership, despite clear evidence of faulty management and bad stewardship, the accord does nothing to protect the collection from future sales. This deaccession of the Museum’s finest art treasures strikes at the heart of the principles of public trust, and sets a precedent that will undermine cultural and historical institutions in the Commonwealth and across the country.

The Museum’s “New Vision” violates the public trust, flouts long-held museum ethics, and sets a damaging precedent that will be felt in museums and cultural institutions across the country. It dishonors the founder Zenas Crans 3d and stewards of the museum’s past and deprives future generations of their cultural inheritance. Instead we support an “alternative vision” for the museum where, instead of sending these great works into private hands where they will most likely never be seen in public again, they are used as a springboard to establish the Berkshire Museum as one of Massachusetts’ great regional museums of art, history, and culture. As such it will provide access to great art within walking distance to the children of Pittsfield, attract tourism, and energize the city’s economy.

We love the museum and are confident that, given that the outcry has reached national proportions, if the directors were to rethink their plans, they could transform all this attention into enormously increased financial support, as happened when the Detroit Institute of the Arts faced similar circumstances.

 

 Listen to this Mass Live video starting at 3:38 and hear how a William Bouguereau painting “The Newborn Lamb” influenced Pittsfield resident Regina Selig Mason growing up and visiting the Berkshire Museum.

 

 THE 40 ARTWORKS SLATED FOR AUCTION
BY THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM 

 

1. ALBERT BIERSTADT
Connecticut River Valley,
Claremont, New Hampshire
1868, Oil on canvas
2. ALBERT BIERSTADT
Giant Redwood Trees of California
Circa 1874, Oil on canvas
3. RALPH ALBERT BLAKELOCK
Rocky Mountains
Oil on canvas
4. WILLIAM-ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU
L’Agneau nouveau-né
(The Newborn Lamb)
1873, Oil on canvas
5. WILLIAM-ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU
La bourrique (The Pony-back Ride)
1884, Oil on canvas
6. ALEXANDER CALDER
Dancing Torpedo Shape
1932, Wood,
wire & aluminum
7. ALEXANDER CALDER
Double Arc and Sphere
1932, Painted wood, wire and sheet metal
8. FREDERIC EDWIN CHURCH
Valley of the Santa Ysabel, 1875,
Oil on canvas
9. CHARLES FRANÇOIS DAUBIGNY
Paysans allant aux champs le matin
Oil on canvas
10. THOMAS WILMER DEWING
The White Dress
Oil on canvas
11. RAOUL DUFY La Fête, Circa 1935, Watercolor on paper
12. GEORGE HENRY DURRIE
Hunter in Winter Wood
1860, Oil on canvas
13. PIETER DE HOOCH
The Music Party
Oil on canvas
14. GEORGE INNESS
Mountain Landscape – The Painter at Work (Leeds in the Catskills, with the Artist Sketching)
Circa 1867-1869, Oil on canvas
15. ADRIAEN ISENBRANT
The Temptation
Oil on panel
16. ADRIAEN ISENBRANT
Flight into Egypt
Oil on panel
17. DANIEL RIDGWAY KNIGHT
Girl with Dog, 1866,
Oil on canvas
18. JOHN LAFARGE
Magnolia, 1863,
Oil on panel
19.HENRY MOORE
Three Seated Figures
1942, Pastel, ink and pen on paper
20. THOMAS MORAN
The Last Arrow
1867, Oil on canvas
21. ALBERTO PASINI
Market Day in Constantinople
1877, Oil on canvas
22. CHARLES WILLSON PEALE
Portrait of General David Forman, 1784,
Oil on canvas
23. REMBRANDT PEALE
George Washington
Oil on canvas
24. FRANCIS PICABIA
Force Comique
Watercolor on paper
25. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS
Portrait of Mr. W. Cave
Oil on canvas
26.NORMAN ROCKWELL
Blacksmith’s Boy – Heel and Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop) 1940, Oil on canvas
27. NORMAN ROCKWELL
Shuffleton’s Barbershop
1950, Oil on canvas
28. AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS
Diana of the Tower, 1899,
Bronze
29. FRANKLIN SIMMONS
Penelope, 1884,
Marble
30. GIULIO TADOLINI
Judith, 1881
Marble
31. GIROLAMO TROPPA
Apollo Flaying Marsyas
Oil on canvas
32. JAN VICTORS
Benjamin and His Brethren
Oil on canvas
33. EDOUARD VUILLARD
Deux femmes dans un interieur
Watercolor on paper
34. EDWIN LORD WEEKS
Indian Prince, Palace of Agra
Oil on canvas
35. BENJAMIN WEST
Daniel Interpreting to Belshazzar the Handwriting on the Wall
Oil on canvas
36. ‘TALE OF GENJI’ SCREEN
Japan, 16th Century
37. A TEN-PANELSCREEN
COROMANDEL LACQUER
‘DAOIST IMMORTALS’

Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period, dated by inscription 1689
38. AN ARCHAIC BRONZE RITUAL
FOOD VESSEL,

Early Western
Zhou Period
39.A LARGE BLUE
& WHITE ‘DRAGON’ VASE

Qing Dynasty, Early 19th Century, Jiaqing-Daoguang Period
40.A LARGE BRONZE
FIGURE OF GUANYIN

China or Japan, 19th Century

 THE ORIGIN STORY 

The Berkshire Museum was founded by paper magnate Xenas Crane, who invested his wealth in his community. He actively sought out art and artifacts for Berkshire Museum (some of the significant works scheduled to be sold), and encouraged the development of collections that would display, under one roof, the splendors of nature and the sublime creations of human genius—science and art, natural and manmade beauty, together in intellectual and aesthetic collaboration—a “window on the world.”

The current administration, however, in an attempt to shore up its finances, fund a “New Vision” and ensure the Museum’s stability “for the next hundred years,” has sent 40 of its most valuable artworks for auction starting November 13th. They say the works, from which they hope to raise $40-60 million, are “not essential” to the Museum’s new mission with its focus on science and technology, primarily for children. Among the works to be sold works are two paintings by Norman Rockwell donated by the artist for the Museum’s “permanent collection,” significant works by Hudson River School artists, including Albert Bierstadt and Fredric Edwin Church, acquired by Museum founder Xenas Crane in 1910, and sculpture by Alexander Calder, now internationally-recognized but once a local artist whose first commissions were for the Berkshire Museum.

While the Museum conducted focus groups in forming their “New Vision,” because participants were not informed about how it would be funded, the results are not valid. Following the Museum’s revelation to the public, which occurred after the works were consigned to Sotheby’s, several financial analysts, including those at the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), which supported the Museum with over $1M in grants over the past ten years, have established that the Museum has exaggerated its financial need. In addition to the MCC, major museum organizations have made public their strong opposition to the sale, including the Smithsonian Institution, from which the Museum was forced to withdraw its affiliation. Latest in national news coverage, is Felix Salmon’s comprehensive article in The New Yorker (October 4, 2017).

Salmon concludes, “There’s no good reason for the museum’s rush: its endowment can easily last a couple more years, during which time the trustees could, were they so inclined, make every effort to keep the museum’s best paintings in the Berkshires, where they belong.”

Help us make that happen.
Help spread the word!