Fisk University cannot sell any of the 101 works of art — some worth millions of dollars — donated by Georgia O’Keeffe in 1949, a judge ruled.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered the historically black Nashville university not to sell any of the works in the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, noting they were donated to be used for art education.
The collection, compiled by the artist’s photographer husband, Alfred Stieglitz, includes works by Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as two O’Keeffes. Lyle wrote in her opinion Tuesday that “Dividing the Collection destroys the identity and effect of the charitable purpose (of O’Keeffe’s gift).”
Fisk has been fighting a legal battle since 2005 over whether it could sell two works — O’Keeffe’s “Radiator Building — Night, New York” and Marsden Hartley’s “Painting No. 3.” The university is trying to raise funds to replenish its endowment.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico, which represents the late painter’s estate, has sued the university for violating the terms of her bequest. The case is set to go to trial July 16.
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper in April ordered Fisk not to sell “Radiator Building — Night, New York” to the museum for $7 million after other bids were submitted for as much as $25 million.
O’Keeffe, who died in 1986, is best known for her modernist paintings of the American West.