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Court Backs Fisk’s Opposition to Walton’s Counter-Suitor

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle yesterday rejected Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper‘s request for a four-month postponement of the Feb. 19 trial involving Fisk University’s plans to monetize its Stieglitz Collection. Fisk wants court approval to finalize its $30-million deal to sell a half-share of the collection (a gift to the university from Georgia O’Keeffe) to Alice Walton‘s planned Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas. The AG requested the delay to allow consideration of a new but amorphous bid for the collection by the proposed Museum of African American Music, Art and Culture in Nashville.
Chancellor Lyle ruled:
Fisk has made it clear that it will not participate in leasing the Collection to MAAMAC. Fisk’s reason is that the MAAMAC proposal does not solve Fisk’s financial crisis. Fisk needs immediate funds in the millions of dollars to stay open….
Fisk’s indication to the court yesterday is that it will seek to maintain custody of the Collection rather than lease it to MAAMAC….The court does not have the authority to force Fisk to do something with the gift, such as lease it to another institution.

The trial date for consideration of the Walton arrrangement remains Feb. 19.
But right now, Tennessee has more important things to worry about.

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