May 10, 2018

Save the Art – Save the Museum to Hold Protest at Sotheby’s Monday Evening

Save the Art – Save the Museum invites fellow supporters to join the permitted protest at Sotheby’s on Monday, May 14 from 5:45 to 7 p.m. at 1334 York Avenue in New York City.

The protest is timed to coincide with the auction of two of 40 deaccessioned works of art from the Berkshire Museum’s collection at the ‘Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale’. This is the first of Sotheby’s spring fine art auctions that include works donated to the community and entrusted to the Berkshire Museum.

“Our presence outside the auction house is intended to discourage other institutions from attempting similar unethical deaccession practices. The laws do not adequately protect publicly held collections from a not-for-profit’s temptation to cash in works held in the public trust,” said Save the Art – Save the Museum spokesperson Hope Davis.

“Since Attorney General Maura Healey allowed the Berkshire Museum’s sale to go forward, we have begun to see the damaging effect of this precedent-setting decision that breaks an essential tenet of art stewardship for museums across the United States,” said Davis. “Selling artwork for capital improvements or to balance budgets is considered unethical in the museum world and is opposed by The American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors.”

Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop”, said to be the artist’s best painting as well as the most valuable artwork selected for deaccession by the Berkshire Museum, was sold several weeks ago to The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles for an undisclosed sum. The Lucas Museum, co-founded by the creator of the “Star Wars” movies, George Lucas, is expected to open in late 2022. Last year, Sotheby’s estimated the value of the painting at $20 to $30 million.

Questions posed by those opposing the sale were gathered and published as an opinion editorial in the Berkshire Eagle on May 3.


Save the Art – Save the Museum (STA) is a citizens’ group that started as a grassroots effort on social media shortly after the Museum announced plans for its sale in July 2017. Members meet regularly to organize opposition to the deaccession, educate the public about viable alternatives, and raise funds to support legal efforts. STA acts on behalf of more than 1,500 people who have joined its Facebook group dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Berkshire imperiled by this sale, and thousands of other local residents who also object, many of whom have flooded the local newspaper with letters urging the Museum to change course and bring back the art.

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