The Tennessean newspaper reports today that the state attorney general is appealing a ruling a Nashville chancery court ruling that would allow Fisk University to sell a 50 percent share in its Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
Fisk wasn't totally happy with the ruling either, since the chancery court judge ruled that the University could use only $10 million of the $30 million CBMAA (read founder Alice Walton) was offering for the collection to boost the school's endowment. Fisk has said it might have to close without the $30 million. The judge ruled that $20 million would have to be invested specifically to endow the collection.
The Stieglitz collection includes not only the sort of top-notch American art that Crystal Bridges is collecting, but also French masters. The collection includes Georgia O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building at Night," itself reportedly worth $25 million. Fisk tried to sell that painting and another by Marsden Hartley several years ago but was sued by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, which maintained in its litigation that Fisk would violate the wishes of O'Keeffe, who donated the Stieglitz Collection.
Fisk and Crystal Bridges intend to circulate the collection between the two museums. "Radiator Building" would be quite a prize in that 20th century building — but is it possible the long-running litigation could end by Nov. 11, when the museum opens? Doubtful.