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Secretive sale at O.C. museum

July 21, 2009

Re "Paintings' quiet sale stumps art world," July 5

All of us in Orange County should be grateful to The Times for your reporting on this matter.

At the very least, the Orange County Museum of Art is guilty of removing a community resource from the public domain. At most, the whole thing may involve conflict of interest or worse.

Why is OCMA so secretive about who appraised the paintings and who bought them, if it has nothing to hide?

Your article cited the standards of the Assn. of Art Museum Directors, saying it "doesn't condemn private sales ... but its three preferred methods all preserve at least a chance of keeping works in the public realm."

I'd like to note that the minimum ethical standards of the International Council of Museums states that "museums that maintain collections hold them in trust for the benefit of society and its development" and that "there will be a strong presumption that a de-accessioned item should first be offered to another museum."

Walter Lachman

Laguna Niguel


It seems to me that the whole point of the secretive art sale by museum director Dennis Szakacs was to settle an old score with the Laguna Art Museum and at the same time to throw his weight around. How sad that he was allowed to make such an agreement.

Elizabeth Kerrigan

Newbury Park

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