Fisk University began as Fisk Free Colored School, one of several schools founded for freedmen during the Union military occupation of Nashville. Fisk was the first historically black college or university to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the first HBCU to be granted a charter for the establishment of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. more>>
Fisk University received some bad news Thursday. Their attempt to sell a famous painting for millions was nixed by state Attorney General Bob Cooper.
Fisk's financial struggles were no secret, and the university hoped the sale of the O'Keeffe's famed Radiator Building painting for $7 million would help with the bottom line and bolster its endowment fund.
"It's a wonderful painting. I think it's wonderful that Nashville has that unique painting here where anybody can go by and see and enjoy it," Cooper said.
The O'Keeffe museum in New Mexico threatened to sue Fisk for selling the painting because it said the artist did not donate the painting for resale. The museum backed off when Fisk offered to sell the painting back to the museum.
Cooper said he could not sign off on the sale considering the amazing private offers made to Fisk for the painting. He cited four offers from unidentified clients in the amounts of $11.5 million, $20 million and two offers of $25 million.
"Based on that the $7 million is simply too deep of a discount," he said.
The attorney general said it was a very tough decision to make and asked himself what Georgia O'Keeffe would do.
"In a way that's what it's all about. What would she do? And I would say she wanted to do was make this art collection available at Fisk," he said.
Fisk University did not comment on the attorney general's decision, indications pointed to the university continuing to look for a way to sell the painting. That means it may end up in court.
Fisk and the O'Keeffe museum will square off in court in July and a judge will decide if the painting can be sold.
In addition to the O'Keeffe painting, Fisk also seeks to auction off another artwork by Marsden Hartley. It would sell for an estimated $11 million.