Fisk University’s Response in the Stieglitz Art Collection
2/14/2012 4:12:23 PM
Nashville, Tenn. – February 14, 2012 – Fisk University today filed an opposition to the application previously filed by the Attorney General with the Tennessee Supreme Court in which the Attorney General asked for permission to appeal the ruling of the Court of Appeals in the ongoing Fisk Stieglitz Art Collection litigation.
On November 29, 2011, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that Fisk had met all of the requirements under New York law which would permit it to enter into the agreement with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas to co-own the collection and share it on an undivided 50-50 basis.
The primary issue in the litigation is whether or not Fisk can be granted an exception to the condition placed on Fisk by the donor of the art, Georgia O’Keeffe, that the art never would be sold. Fisk successfully argued in the Court of Appeals that under New York law, if it becomes impossible or impracticable for the recipient of charitable gift to comply with such conditions, a court may make exceptions to those conditions so long as the basic purposes of the gift are retained. That court also ruled that the plan to share the Collection with Crystal Bridges complied with O’Keeffe’s basic purposes in giving the art to Fisk.
The Attorney General is arguing that the no-sale condition imposed by O’Keeffe cannot not be violated, even under the current circumstances.
In its Opposition, Fisk noted that two of the considerations used by the Supreme Court in deciding whether or not to grant an appeal is whether or not its decision would settle an important legal issue or settle an important question of public policy. Because the case is controlled by the law of New York, where O’Keeffe then resided and where the art was originally located, a decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court would not settle any issue of law or policy because its decision would not be binding on cases filed in Tennessee under Tennessee law.
Fisk also compared the conditions imposed by O’Keeffe in 1949 with the conditions under which the art would be held if the Crystal Bridges transaction were allowed to proceed and pointed out that O’Keeffe’s conditions would be substantially retained.. For example, neither Fisk nor Crystal Bridges would be permitted to sell their 50% interest without the permission of the Davison County Chancery Court.
For additional information, please contact the Office of Communications and Public Relations at 615-329-8767.
# # #
About Fisk University
Founded in 1866, Fisk University is Nashville’s first institution of higher education and it currently ranks in the top 10% of all liberal arts institutions in the nation according to Washington Monthly. Fisk is one of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) listed in Forbes magazine’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” listed #135 of 650 institutions, and has been ranked in The Princeton Review’s “Best 373 Colleges” publication for twenty consecutive years. CBS Money Watch ranked Fisk university professors as the 19th best of 650 colleges and universities in the nation for 2011. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fisk #144 in the elite Tier One group of 246 liberal arts institutions selected for the distinction among the 1,400 colleges and universities in the nation and Fisk is one of only three HBCUs ranked in Tier One. Fisk has earned three R & D 100 Awards for work in the creation of radiation detectors developed in collaboration with several national laboratories and corporations. No other HBCU has earned a R & D 100 Award. According to the National Science Foundation, Fisk produces more African-Americans who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the natural sciences than any school in the nation. For more information on Fisk University, please visit www.fisk.edu.