Appeals Court Halts Planned Sale Of Berkshire Museum Art

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield as seen in 2013. (Berkshire Museum/Wikimedia Commons)
The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield as seen in 2013. (Berkshire Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

An appeals court has ruled against a Massachusetts museum's planned sale of 40 works of art, including two by Norman Rockwell.

An appeals court judge granted a motion Friday from Attorney General Maura Healey to stop the sale scheduled for Monday, so she can appeal a lower court ruling allowing the auction to go forward.

The injunction starts Monday. It will stay in effect until Dec. 11.

The order comes after a judge denied a bid Tuesday to stop the sale.

Rockwell's three sons are among those fighting the sale. An attorney for his family said in a statement his clients support Friday's decision. The family said the artwork should remain in the Berkshires "for all to enjoy."

Michael Keating, the attorney who represents two of Rockwell's sons, said selling the paintings would breach an agreement the museum made with Rockwell.

"When Normal Rockwell gave the paintings to the museum, he was assured by the museum that they would be part of the permanent collection," Keating said.

The Berkshire Museum has stood by its decision to sell the artworks.

Elizabeth McGraw, president of the museum's board of trustees, said that the temporary injunction is a "disappointment."

"The auction that held the promise of addressing our museum’s serious financial difficulties will have to proceed without our works, and our plans for the future will be delayed pending the next steps in the legal process," she said.

With reporting by the WBUR Newscast Unit and the Associated Press

This article was originally published on November 11, 2017.



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