In a story just posted on the Scene site, Christine Kreyling (who's been following the convolutions of the legal battle over Fisk's Stieglitz Collection for several years) tells why Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle's ruling late yesterday has both sides seeing red:
Lyle gives Fisk permission to sell a half-interest in the collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas for $30 million. But only $10 million would be available to the university to spend at its discretion. The remaining $20 million “shall be removed from Fisk and set up in an endowment for the Collection,” Lyle writes. The money “shall be placed with a foundation to conserve and manage the funds, and to produce income. Fisk shall have no access to the $20 million or its management.”
... In a prepared statement, Fisk President Hazel O’Leary expresses pleasure that the court has approved the sale to Crystal Bridges. As to be expected, however, she’s not at all pleased that Fisk will have access to only $10 million.
The “Court’s decision to restrict $20 million of the funds so that interest from the endowment is used to support the art is excessive,” O’Leary states. The income from the restricted endowment “far exceeds the amount necessary to secure and maintain the Collection.” O’Leary has previously testified that Fisk currently spends approximately $131,000 a year on the Stieglitz Collection. She has also stated that the university needs $150 million to survive and that the school’s annual shortfall averages $2 million.
Cooper’s response expresses no pleasure at all. “We are disappointed with the approval of the Stieglitz Collection’s sale to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas contrary to the express wishes of the donor,” he says. “The Pearl Creswell Fund is an alternative that would allow the art to be displayed on the Fisk campus full time at no cost to the university.” The attorney general has argued that Fisk has no legal right to sell any interest in the collection due to a “no-sale” condition O’Keeffe imposed at the time of her gift.