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Save The Art Continues Opposition to Berkshire Museum Art Sale

By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires, Saturday, July 14, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Tom Patti considered it a compliment to have his art in the same building as Norman Rockwell and Alexander Calder.

The Berkshire Museum had commissioned his work at the entrance, the foyer, and in three other locations. But now, Patti doesn’t feel that the museum values local artists.

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July 14th Rally Calls on Museum to Halt Further Sales of Art, Restore Original Mission

July 11, 2018

Save the Art – Save the Museum invites the public to a July 14th rally in front of the Berkshire Museum at 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to protest further sales of art that continue to erode the museum’s founding mission.

This rally marks the first anniversary of the Berkshire Museum’s announcement of its radical plan to sell its most important art, alter its historic building, and enact a “New Vision” that will essentially transform it into a children’s science museum where art will no longer be central to its mission. This gathering will send a message to the museum’s board that it is vital to listen to the community and restore Zenas Crane’s vision for the museum as a multifaceted “window on the world” for adults and children, with its collection of art masterpieces as its crowning jewel.

The museum’s current effort to sell even more art cannot be justified after pushing through the first phase of its plan to sell up to 40 of its most important artworks. With $47 million now in the bank, the board cannot claim that it needs to further strip away the collection “to keep its doors open.” It should not sacrifice the important remaining works by great artists such as Bierstadt, Moran, and Calder just to reach an arbitrary $55 million goal with no specific plan.

It is vital for the board to provide information so the community can accurately assess the situation. There are many unanswered questions as to why the board originally decided that this unpopular decision to sell off its art was necessary. The Museum has now released the financial documents it was required to by law. Full transparency includes making public its contract with Sotheby’s, to determine whether its terms had any impact on the Museum’s resistance to widespread calls to take a pause in the sales.

 

The billboard, which can be found along South Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that an activist group paid for to rally support for the fight to save 9 Berkshire Museum artworks from being sold. Photo: Gillian Jones for the Berkshire Eagle.

Activists Continue to Protest Berkshire Museum Art Sales

ARTFORUM, July 3, 2018

Critics of the Berkshire Museum’s controversial deaccessioning plan have not given up on the fight to save the institution’s artworks. Located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the museum first announced that it was going to auction off works to bolster its endowment and fund a renovation project in the summer of last year. Since then, the museum industry has been up in arms over the plan—it is considered unethical for an art institution to use the proceeds from the sale of artworks for anything other than acquisitions.

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Van Shields retiring as Berkshire Museum executive director

By The Berkshire Eagle, June 28, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Van Shields, the executive director of the Berkshire Museum who pushed a controversial art sale plan to boost finances, is retiring.

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Berkshire Museum plans to sell 9 more works, bringing total to 22

By Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, June 25, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Nine more Berkshire Museum works will be sold in coming months, the institution said Monday, in a drive to reach the full $55 million in proceeds allowed by an April court ruling.

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Berkshire Museum takes steps to improve ‘best practices,’ art sales net $47 million

By Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, June 20, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Four months after their landmark accord, key points of dispute between the Berkshire Museum and the Attorney General’s Office are back in play.

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Bonus Episode: Berkshire Museum Deaccessioning Begins

Katie and Steve give an update on the first round of auction sales as part of the Berkshire Museum’s court sanctioned deaccessioning plan. They discuss the results of the sales, the museum’s current stance, and where that leaves us (hint: dissatisfied).

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Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival. But big decisions lie ahead.

Key decisions lie ahead,
Berkshire Museum trustees say

By Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle, June 6, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival.

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To read the transcript click on this link.

 

Berkshire Museum To Community:

It is time to secure the future of the Berkshire Museum, true to the Museum’s mission, respectful of its collection, and responsive to the community it serves, doing so transparently, cooperatively, and thoughtfully, to regain public trust and confidence where it has been lost.

Sincerely,

The Board of Trustees
Berkshire Museum

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Response from the Berkshire Community:

“How exactly will the funds from the sale be used, and for what programs and building revisions? If the museum “treasures fine art and our engagement with the community,” why were the best of the museum’s treasures sold? And why wasn’t the community more engaged in planning the vision of the museum’s replacement future?”

Letter to the Editor of The Berkshire Eagle: Museum board still isn’t being open
– by Roger Mandle, South Dartmouth, 6/5/18. The writer is former president, Rhode Island School of Design; former deputy director and chief curator, National Gallery of Art; former member, National Council on the Arts and Ohio Arts Council; president of the board, Newport Restoration Foundation; member, Williams College Museum of Art Visiting Committee; member, Alliance of American Museums; and member, New England Museums Association.

 

“We must ensure our facilities are updated to contemporary museum standards.” Well, this is a change. Ethics and standards seemed to have gone out the window when the board disassociated the Berkshire Museum from museum associations in order to sell the art. What standards is the board going to follow now?”

Letter to the Editor of The Berkshire Eagle: Museum’s open letter raises more questions by Karen R. Ketcham, Adams, 6/5/18
 

Response from the Media:

“So the proceeds of sale will now go into low-interest accounts at local banks, so the museum can first take plenty of time to freshly evaluate what they can now do with this money… So, in fact, there was no urgent need to receive these funds after all, despite their emphatic, panicked claims in court that the May auctions were absolutely, positively the option of last resort given their impending financial collapse… Huh? What happened?”

Berkshire Museum Case: Now “profoundly accessible” – yikes!
by Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 6/1/18

 

“If this is transparency, we can only wonder what opacity looks like. It would do better to “take time now” to rethink the disastrous decision to decimate its collection.”

Berkshire Museum’s Murky “Transparency”: Parsing the Half-Truths in Its “Open Letter”by CultureGrrl, Lee Rosenbaum’s Cultural Commentary, 5/31/18

 

Norman Rockwell’s “Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop” and Frederic Church’s
“Valley of Santa Isabel, New Granada” on display at Sotheby’s on auction day.

Photo by Timothy Cahill ©2018

Amid Protests, Berkshire Museum Sales Bring Over $40M, and Trustees Want More

Sales the most prized works from the museum’s collection netted over $40 million, but more will hit the auction block if the institution pursues its goal of making $55 million.

By Timothy Cahill, HYPERALLERGIC, May 31, 2018

It has begun. The first 13 of the 40 works marked for deaccession by the Berkshire Museum have been sold. George Lucas has bought Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” (1950) for his new museum and a baker’s dozen more were sent to the block earlier this month at Sotheby’s spring sales. These were the first works sold at auction following the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, museum’s settlement with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. In February, Healey approved the sale designed to pad the museum’s endowment and radically reshape its mission, capping the spoils at a maximum of $55 million. The agreement, which to critics is a bit of a farce itself, has turned the sale into a three-act melodrama. The art is to be disposed of in three separate groups or “tranches,” until the total dollar amount is achieved. Tranche is a banking term derived from the Old French word for “slice”; the settlement, Healey’s office insists, was the best half-a-loaf compromise existing law allowed to mitigate the sell-off. Watching the auctions over the past two weeks, it felt more like death by a thousand cuts.

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Sanctions Are Imposed on Berkshire Museum for Sale of Artworks

By Colin Moynihan, The New York Times/Art & Design, May 27, 2018

One of the country’s professional museum organizations announced on Friday that its board of trustees had voted to impose sanctions on the Berkshire Museum, which recently sold artworks to support an expansion initiative.

“Selling art to support any need other than to build a museum’s collection fundamentally undermines the critically important relationships between museums, donors and the public,” the organization, the Association of Art Museum Directors, wrote in a statement. “When museums violate the trust of their donors and the public, they diminish the opportunity and responsibility to make great works of art available to the public.”

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AAMD Statement on Sanction
of Berkshire Museum and
La Salle University Art Museum”

New York, NY – May 25, 2018

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) announced today that its Board of Trustees has voted to impose sanctions on the Berkshire Museum and the La Salle University Art Museum. This follows the decision made by each institution to use the proceeds from recent art sales to support operating budgets or expansion initiatives, a decision that violates one of the core principles of art museums. These actions are in opposition to AAMD’s policy that such funds must be used only to support acquisitions of art.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Click here to see the 40 works in greater detail

 

LETTERS AND OPINION

Transparency = trust for Berkshire Museum – Hope Davis,Great Barrington; Carol Diehl, Housatonic; Margaret Heilbrun, Housatonic; Linda Kaye-Moses, Pittsfield; Arlene Murdock, Pittsfield; Rosemary Starace, Pittsfield; The writers are members of Save the Art-Save the Museum. 7/13/18

Questions of conflict at Berkshire Museum – Linda Lykkebak, Orlando, FL, The writer was born and grew up in the Berkshires. 7/12/18

Museum board must go – Robert Toth, Pittsfield, 7/9/18

Questions persist about Berkshire Museum – Sally White, Williamstown, 7/6/18

‘Berkshire Museums,’ as such, no longer exits – Morris Bennett and Anne Roland, Pittsfield, 7/3/18

Shields sells and runs – Jane McWhorter, Great Barrington, 7/3/18

I, Publius: Charting the hits and misses of Berkshire culture, politics – Alan Chartock,
The Berkshire Eagle, 6/29/18

Board should follow Shields out the door
– William H. Vogt, Stockbridge, 6/29/18

Despair at the sale of Albert Bierstadt painting – George Wislocki, Pittsfield, 6/28/18 ~ The writer is founding president of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

Unforgivable assault on art and memories – James M. Lamme III, Great Barrington, 6/27/18

Lynn Villency Cohen: Berkshire Museum drama is a complete sell-out – by Lynn Villency Cohen, Stockbridge, 6/19/18 ~ Lynn Villency Cohen is an art historian and writer.

Berkshire Museum must schedule public forums
– by Martha Lenz, Pittsfield, 6/17/18

Critical museum stories just aren’t newsworthy – Peter Gordon, Richmond, 6/9/18 ~ Peter Gordon is husband of Wendy Gordon who sits on the Berkshire Museum Board of Trustees.

Museum’s PR spin won’t help it move on
– Peter Dudek, Windsor, 6/9/18

Going forward, museum must be transparent – Sally White, Williamstown, 6/7/18

Eagle keeps inflaming anti-museum emotions – Marcia Z. Feuer, Richmond, 6/7/18

Museum’s open letter raises more questions – Karen R. Ketcham, Adams, 6/5/18

Museum board still isn’t being open – Roger Mandle, South Dartmouth, 6/5/18 ~ The writer is former president, Rhode Island School of Design; former deputy director and chief curator, National Gallery of Art; former member, National Council on the Arts and Ohio Arts Council; president of the board, Newport Restoration Foundation; member, Williams College Museum of Art Visiting Committee; member, Alliance of American Museums; and member, New England Museums Association.

Berkshire Museum Case: Now “profoundly accessible” – yikes! by Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 6/1/18

An entire new set of spritzed up Rockwells – Wayne Burkhart, Monterey, 6/1/18

Amid Protests, Berkshire Museum Sales Bring Over $40M, and Trustees Want More – by Timothy Cahill, Hyperallergic, 5/31/18

Museum leaders have assured robust future – Michael Zaccaro, Pittsfield, 5/31/18

Lucas should acknowledge painting’s Berkshire link – Morris Bennett & Anne Roland, Pittsfield, 5/29/18

Shields, museum board should step down ASAP – John DiTomasso, Peru, 5/28/18

Museum leadership deserves to be scorned – Amy Renak, Pittsfield, 5/24/18

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

7 Page May 31, 2018 letter sent to the AG’s office from William F. Lee/WilmerHale

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

Save The Art Continues Opposition to Berkshire Museum Arty Sale – Andy McKeever, iBerkshires, 7/14/18

Berkshire Museum backers seek to accentuate the positive with social media page – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/11/18

New era begins for Berkshire Museum finances – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/10/18

Berkshire Museum finances by the numbers – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/10/18

Berkshire Museum art sale opponents plan Saturday vigil – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/9/18

POLITICO Massachusetts Playbook / Lauren Dezenski’s must-read rundown of what’s up on Beacon Hill and beyond / THE LOCAL ANGLE – 7/3/18

Activists Continue to Protest Berkshire Museum Art Sales – ARTFORUM, 7/3/18

Foes of continued Berkshire Museum art sales ramp up message – Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/2/18

‘Giant Redwood Trees’ will fall at Berkshire Museum despite interpretive value – Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/30/18

Timeline on how Berkshire Museum trustees managed choices on art sales – Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/30/18

Berkshire Museum bids bittersweet farewell to current executive director – Elise Takahama, Boston Globe, 7/29/18

Berkshire Museum Director Who Led Artwork Sell-Off Will Retire – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 6/28/18

After nearly seven years of inspiring leadership, Executive Director Van Shields is retiring from the Berkshire Museum – Berkshire Museum MailChimp Newsletter, 6/28/18

Van Shields retiring as Berkshire Museum executive director
by The Berkshire Eagle, 6/28/18

Berkshire Museum director retiring as second lot of works goes up for sale – by Steve Barnes, Albany Times Unioin, 6/28/18

Berkshire Museum Executive Director Retiring Amid Art Sale Scandal – by Josh Landes, NorthEast Public Radio WAMC, 6/28/18

Berkshire Museum to sell nine more works from its collection – Apollo / The International Art Magazine, 6/26/18

Berkshire Museum to Sell More Works – artnet news, 6/26/18

Berkshire Museum to sell off 9 additional art works – by Ray Kelly, MassLive, 6/25/18

Berkshire Museum plans to sell 9 more works bringing total to 22 – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/25/18

Museum that sold Rockwell pieces eyes sale of more artwork – News Channel 13, Albany, New York, 6/26/18

Berkshire Museum takes steps to improve ‘best practices,’ art sales net $47 million – by Larry Parnass,
The Berkshire Eagle, 6/20/18

No decision yet on sale of additional Berkshire Museum artworks – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/12/18

Berkshire Museum Case: An Acute Lesson in Museum Ethics (I) – Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 6/12/18

Director Laurie Norton Moffatt of Rockwell Museum, What His Legacy Means to the Berkshires, by Charles Giuliano, Berkshire Fine Arts, 6/12/18

Museum visitors savor their brush with ‘Shuffleton’s’ – and Rockwell’s skills
by Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/9/18 ~ This article was updated to reflect the number of works Berkshire Museum decided last year to sell, 40

Author Q & A: Open Book with Jed Perl – by Benjamin Cassidy, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/8/18 ~ Jed Perl gave a talk about his book “Calder: The Conquest of Time”

Not Feeling the Board: A Little Berkshire Backstory – by Ruth McCambridge, NPQ NONPROFIT QUARTERLY, 6/7/18

Key decisions lie ahead, Berkshire Museum trustees say – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/6/18

Berkshire Museum Case: The Attorney General’s Office and the “Get Over It” Syndrome – Martin Gammon, President at Pergamon Art Group, 6/5/18

Two former trustees rap decisions by Berkshire Museum board – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/5/18

Amid Controversy, Berkshire Museum Pledges Transparency – by Josh Landes, WAMC NorthEastPublic Radio, 6/2/18

Berkshire Museum Sanctioned for Selling Artworks to Boost Endowment – Philanthropy News Digest, 6/1/18

Berkshire Museum Statement by Board of Trustees – 5/31/18

Berkshire Museum’s Murky “Transparency”: Parsing the Half-Truths in Its “Open Letter” – CultureGrrl, Lee Rosenbaum’s cultural commentary, 5/31/18

Berkshire Museum seeks to ‘regain public trust and confidence’ – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/31/18

Recent Rockwell buyer won’t say whether it made it a two-fer – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/30/18

Art Museum Trade Group Asks 243 Members to Not Lend to Berkshire Museum – by Ruth McCambridge, NPQ / Nonprofit Quarterly, 5/30/18

Sanctions Are Imposed on Berkshire Museum for Sale of Artworks – by Colin Moynihan, The New York Times, 5/27/18

Inside the legal case: Mass Cultural Council wasn’t able to make against Berkshire Museum art sales – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/26/18

AAMD Statement on Sanction of Berkshire Museum and La Salle University Art Museum – New York, NY, 5/25/18

National group bars art exchanges with Berkshire Museum – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/25/18

Association of Art Museum Directors Sanctions Berkshire Museum, La Salle University Art Museum Over Art Sales – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 5/25/18

Berkshire Museum’s Frederic Church Painting Sells to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 5/24/18

Berkshire Museum and La Salle University Art Museum face sanctions for selling artworks – ARTFORUM, 5/25/18

Buyer of acclaimed Berkshire Museum painting extends free offer to view it
– by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/24/18

PAFA acquires major Hudson River School painting, invites all of Berkshire, Mass., to visit it free forever – The Inquirer Daily News Philly.com, 5/24/18

Berkshire Museum Falls Short of $55 Million Goal After First Round of Auctions – ARTFORUM, 5/24/18

Rockwell work at center of controversy gets $8M at auction – by Associated Press, The Washington Post, 5/24/18

Amid Protests, Berkshire Museum’s Deaccession Sale at Sotheby’s Falls Short of Expectations – Norman Rockwell hits its mark, but a $5 million Frederic Church fails to sell – Caroline Goldstein & Eileen Kinsella, artnet news, 5/23/18

‘We Are Disappointed but Not Surprised’: After First Round of Sales, Berkshire Museum Pulls in $42 M., Below $55 M. Goal – by Andrew Russeth, ARTNEWS, 5/23/18

Rockwell’s Blacksmith’s Boy’ fetches $7 million at auction – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/23/18

Berkshire Museum’s European works don’t hit Sotheby’s auction estimates – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/22/18

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

Never mind about grant, Berkshire Museum tells state arts group – by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/22/18

Rockwell Work Acquired By L.A. Museum To Remain In Berkshires For Now – by Josh Landes, WAMC NorthEast Public Radio, 5/21/18

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.”

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