Report: Fisk University Quietly Sold 2 Paintings

July 27, 2016

Fisk University sparked controversy several years ago when it tried to sell off parts of its collection of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings to help solve its financial problems; the sale was ultimately blocked by a judge and the university wound up sharing its collection with an Arkansas museum in exchange for an infusion of cash.

But as the university was negotiating that legal arrangement, its president at the time quietly sold two other paintings, The New York Times reported. The sale was not reported at the time, and the Times quotes the director of another university's museum as saying that the Fisk sale was "very much against the ethics of our profession."

The Fisk situation was one of several in recent years that have raised questions of whether colleges or universities can try to transform art donated to them into assets they can use to support themselves.

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