Mass. AG Will Probe Brandeis Museum Sale

Art world condemns decision to close gallery, sell collection
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2009 6:32 AM CST
A work by Jasper Johns at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Another work from 1957 is in the collection of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.   (©erratic0101)

(Newser) – The Massachusetts attorney general announced a probe into Brandeis University's shock decision to shut its modern art museum and sell off the entire 6,000-work collection. Brandeis did not consult the AG's office or even the museum's board, and wills and agreements between the Rose Art Museum and its donors may prevent the proposed sales. The university's decision has been met with unanimous anger in the art world and academia alike, reports the New York Times.

Art experts estimate that the Rose's collection may be worth as much as $450 million, although it would bring in far less in current market conditions. Robert Storr, a MoMA curator turned dean of Yale's art school, called the Brandeis decision "not only unprincipled, but also bad economics—they are throwing away one of their prime assets." Jasper Johns, who has a painting from 1957 in the collection, was equally shocked: "I find it astonishing. I’ve never heard anything like it."