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Fisk Decision: Reactions from Attorney General and Frist Center

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Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper

[UPDATE: Fisk’s reaction is here.]

This just in from Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, responding to today’s decision in the Fisk/Crystal Bridges case:

While the Court acknowledged that Fisk University is facing financial difficulties, the Court found no precedent that would allow an institution to sell a charitable gift to generate money for the institution.

We are grateful the Court agreed that this unique collection of art belongs in Nashville and that the proposed sale would undermine future charitable giving in this state. We hope all those in our community who care about the future of this collection and Fisk University will join us in seizing this opportunity provided by the Court to look for constructive and creative alternatives.

They’d better “seize this opportunity” quickly. They’ve got just 20 days to come up with a locally based alternative to the deal with Alice Walton‘s planned Bentonville, AR, museum. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle didn’t rule out that deal, but said that it would, at the very least, need to be modified before she could consider approving it, if no an acceptable local alternative materializes. (More on this next week.)

Meanwhile, Ellen Pryor, spokesperson for Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which was cited in the court decision as a possible key player in a Nashville-only solution, told me only this:

As the matter between the parties in the suit is not yet resolved, it is inappropriate for us to make any comment.

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