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Court Decision: Fisk Can Keep Stieglitz Collection, Subject to No-Sale and Must-Exhibit Stipulations

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled this afternoon that Fisk University, Nashville, could hold onto its Stieglitz Collection, rather than turn it over to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, as that Santa Fe institution had sought. The eponymous museum, as successor-in-interest to Georgia O’Keeffe’s estate, had argued that it should be awarded the collection by the court, because Fisk had breached conditions imposed by the artist when she gave the works to the university.

Chancellor Lyle essentially gave Fisk a second chance to comply with O’Keeffe’s written stipulations, going forward. To make sure that happens, though, she ordered the following:

The court imposes a permanent mandatory injunction that prevents Fisk from selling the Collection, sets a deadline [Oct. 6, 2008] for Fisk to remove the collection from storage and return it to display, and imposes notice requirements on Fisk concerning loans of the Collection and Fisk’s ability to care for it. Noncompliance with the injunction carries a threat of finding of contempt punishable by fines, payment of damages and attorneys fees, and forfeiture of the Collection.

Sounds good to me. But here’s the part of the decision that I REALLY like:

It is not just the interests of Fisk which the Court must consider. In the case of a charitable gift, the law requires the Court to take into account the public interest….By allowing the Collection to remain displayed at an educational institution in this part of the country where it can be viewed by students, residents of the area and visitors, the public interest is served.

The Tennessean‘s Jonathan Marx reports on the decision here.

Appeals, anyone?

an ArtsJournal blog