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Fisk Univ. Allowed to Sell Half Its Georgia O’Keeffe Art Collection to Walmart Heiress’ Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Radiator Building’ from Fisk University Collection

The long battle over the fate of Fisk University’s art collection is finally over. After a decision in April by the Tennessee Supreme Court upholding a lower court decision, a plan has now been completed to allow Fisk University, a historically black institution in Nashville, to sell a 50 percent stake in its 101-piece collection, donated by Georgia O’Keeffe, to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark., founded by the Walmart heiress Alice Walton.

Crystal Bridges will give the financially troubled university $30 million to be allowed to display the collection two out of every four years, along with the right of first refusal should the rest of the collection ever come up for sale.

Officials at Fisk had said that the school might be forced to close without the infusion of cash from the partial sale of the collection, whose annual display costs it has said it cannot afford. (Ms. Walton has pledged an additional $1 million to improve the university’s display facilities.)

The share plan, approved Thursday by the Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville, was opposed by the Tennessee attorney general, who argued that it would inhibit future donations by overriding O’Keeffe’s stipulations that the collection never be sold or broken up.


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