Court Rules Fisk University Can’t Sell Stake in O’Keeffe Collection

Despite a court ruling last summer which blocked Sante Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum from interfering with Nashville’s Fisk University‘s O’Keeffe collection that the artist herself had donated, the university is still having trouble getting any money for them, which was their original plan from the start. After trying to sell a joint stake in the collection to the Arkansas-based, Wal-Mart heiress-founded Bridges Museum for $30 million, a judge has blocked the transaction, saying it “does not meet the terms of the donation O’Keeffe made to the school in 1949” reports BusinessWeek. The sale was intended to raise money to aid the struggling university museum, who has argued that it doesn’t have the money to properly display the O’Keeffes and therefore should be allowed to, if not outright sell them, share them at a profit with a museum who can. However, because the artist originally donated the paintings with a very specific purpose, to give the then-segregated school and its surrounding area a large and valuable collection “to study” (and in effect, raise its profile and attract visitors), the judge ruled that moving the paintings would go against O’Keeffe’s original wishes. Though this deal now looks to be over, the judge has left open the possibilities of something more local, selling a stake in the collection, but keeping all of it in Nashville.