updated 9/12/2007 12:52:39 PM ET 2007-09-12T16:52:39

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in New Mexico has dropped a lawsuit over a 101-piece art collection at Fisk University in Nashville.

The Santa Fe, N.M., museum moved to withdraw its lawsuit one day after a judge denied a settlement agreement that would have sent a prominent O'Keeffe painting to the O’Keeffe museum for $7.5 million.

The 1927 oil painting called "Radiator Building -- Night, New York" is part of the collection given to the historically black Fisk University in 1949 by the estate of O'Keeffe's husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

The withdrawal opens the door to a $30 million offer made by the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark., late last month to share a 50 percent stake in the collection and to display it half of the time.

The judge on Monday rejected the settlement agreement, saying Crystal Bridges Museum's offer provided better terms.

The Crystal Bridges Museum was founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, and is scheduled to open in 2009.

Fisk University was founded in 1866 to educate former slaves, but the school has struggled throughout its history to raise money and nearly closed 20 years ago because of lack of funding.

The New Mexico museum, which represents the late painter's estate, had sued the school, claiming that Fisk was violating the conditions of the gift by trying to sell some of the paintings and by not displaying the collection.

Saul Cohen, chairman of the museum's board, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

If Fisk had lost its case at trial, the entire collection could have been awarded to the museum. A spokesman for the school did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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