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Tennessee court rules in favor of Fisk University's Stieglitz sale

April 23, 2012|By David Ng
  • Alfred Stieglitz's "Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait."
Alfred Stieglitz's "Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait." (J. Paul Getty Museum )

The ongoing legal battle surrounding Fisk University's Stieglitz art collection took a significant step toward a conclusion Monday when the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected an attempt to keep the artwork from moving out of Nashville.

Fisk University has been trying to sell a 50% stake in the prized art collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum, founded by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. The university has been experiencing financial difficulties and sought the sale to help it stay afloat.

On Monday, the Tennessee court turned down an appeal by the state to prevent the artwork from leaving Nashville. A lower court had paved the way for the deal in a decision last year.

Under the deal, the collection would reside part-time in Nashville and part-time in Bentonville, Ark., where the Crystal Bridges Museum is located. The university would receive $30 million as part of the agreement, according to the Tennessean.

The Stieglitz collection comprises 101 pieces of art and was donated to Fisk University by artist Georgia O'Keefe in 1949. The collection is named after her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. O'Keefe had specified that the collection not be sold or broken up.

Monday's decision could represent the end of the legal battle that has been going on since 2005. Fisk president Hazel O'Leary told the Associated Press that only a few administrative details need to be worked out before the case is closed.


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