Wednesday, October 03, 2007

They did it: Randolph College is putting their famous George Bellows painting, Men on the Docks--the first purchase of the Randolph-Macon art association, made back in 1920--up for auction.

From Lucy Hooper, President of the Board of Trustees:

The paintings to be sold are George Bellows' Men of the Docks, Edward Hicks' A Peaceable Kingdom, Ernest Hennings' Through the Arroyo, and Rufino Tamayo's Troubador. These four paintings were chosen to provide an infusion into the College's endowment while limiting the impact on the coherence of the collection. These paintings were not purchased with funds drawn from the Louise Jordan Smith Trust, have no restrictions on sale, and in
some cases were purchased by the College itself. The results of the auction will determine whether the College must revisit the sale or sharing of additional paintings in the coming year.

The Bellows, purchased by the College in 1920, has deep roots in our history. Its loss is the most difficult for many of us. However, as the most valuable piece in the College's collection, its sale will allow the College to keep more of the collection intact.


Blogger Andi Lea said...

Judge delays sale of Randolph College art

Friday, Nov 09, 2007 - 12:09 AM


LYNCHBURG -- A judge yesterday granted a temporary injunction that would delay the sale of four paintings from Randolph College's Maier Museum of Art until other litigation against the school is settled.

Lynchburg Circuit Judge Leyburn Mosby Jr. said his decision to grant the injunction stemmed from his belief that "the harm if the art is sold is greater than the harm if the art is not sold."

The college will appeal the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court with the hope of a reversal before the first auction, scheduled for Nov. 19, Randolph spokeswoman Brenda Edson said.

The injunction would be finalized when opponents to the sale post a $10 million bond, Mosby said after hearing several hours of arguments from both sides. The judge rejected a motion from the college asking him to dismiss the case.

College officials said they hoped the sale of the four paintings would raise at least $32 million to add to the school's $153 million endowment.

The artwork is expected to bring tens of millions of dollars at auction, including possibly as much as $35 million for one of the paintings, George Bellows' "Men of the Docks." The other works are Edward Hicks' "A Peaceable Kingdom," Ernest Hennings' "Through the Arroyo" and Rufino Tamayo's "Trovador." They were removed from the museum on Oct. 1.

The paintings are slated for sale on Nov. 19 and Nov. 29 through the New York-based Christie's auction house.

Christies' spokesman Rik Pike said last night, "We have not seen the ruling and therefore are unable to comment."

A group of 19 students, donors, patrons and former employees of the Maier Museum filed a request last month seeking to halt the sale of the art until the conclusion of several cases related to the former Randolph-Macon Woman's College. The name changed during the summer after the board of trustees decided to admit men.

Two of the cases are related to the college's decision to become coeducational. Mosby dismissed both cases in January, but the Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals, which likely will be scheduled in the spring.

If the court rules in favor of opponents of the college in those other suits, the plaintiffs argue, then the court should permanently prohibit the sale of the paintings and order that they be returned to the museum.

Another ongoing case involves legal action the college filed in August to determine whether it could sell or share 36 pieces of art bought from a trust bequeathed in the will of Louise Jordan Smith, the school's first art professor.

But none of the four pieces of art slated for auction were bought with that trust, Edson said, so they would not be affected by the case. The college bought two of the paintings and received two as gifts, she said, but none of them had any restrictions on sale.

Litigation filed last month in response to the college's filing asks the court to declare that the entirety of the collection is interconnected and should be protected from sale. A hearing for that case has been scheduled for Thursday, also before Mosby in Lynchburg Circuit Court.

Richmond-based lawyer Anthony F. Troy, who represents the plaintiffs, has said that the central issue revolves around donor intent and whether gifts to the college can be used in ways not intended by the donor.

Edson said the school's board of trustees has made difficult decisions in the past year but that those choices will be legally upheld.

"We strongly believe that the suit is without merit," she said, "and we're confident that the college will prevail."
Christa Desrets is a staff writer at The News & Advance in Lynchburg.

10:51 AM  

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