A ruling over whether Fisk University can sell a stake in its famed art collection is due from a Nashville judge Friday. The historically black institution has said that if the answer is no, the university may have to suspend operations.
All of the chips are down for Fisk, which has said over and over in the most recent court proceedings that the school may close if this $30 million deal can’t go through. Fisk began trying to sell parts of the Stieglitz Collection five years ago, but it’s been blocked in court time after time.
If Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle rules in Fisk’s favor, the school could have a chance at finally closing its deal with the Crystal Bridges Museum. The 101-piece collection would split its time between Arkansas and Tennessee.
The Attorney General, as the state’s steward of charitable gifts, is trying to keep Fisk from selling any part of the collection for two reasons. For one, when the late painter Georgia O’Keeffe gave the art to Fisk, she asked that it never be sold. Also, she made her intentions known that the purpose of the gift was to benefit the people of Nashville and the South.
If the Attorney General wins, Fisk will still have its art but the school has argued it won’t have enough money to remain open.