Appeals Court Rules Fisk Can Sell Part Of Art Collection - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Appeals Court Rules Fisk Can Sell Part Of Art Collection

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An appeals court has just ruled Fisk University can sell a portion of its prized art collection to keep the school afloat.

The Appellate Court of Tennessee of Nashville made the 2-1decision Tuesday evening.

Last year, a Davidson County court agreed to allow the school to sell a portion of the Georgia O'Keefe collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The state Attorney General had asked the appeals court to deny the sale entirely, arguing that would violate the intent of the donation from O'Keeffe.

Fisk University President Hazel O'Leary testified in August 2010 that the cash-strapped school would be forced to close its doors if a Nashville court did not let it sell 50 percent of the Stieglitz art collection.

O'Keefe donated the collection to the school more than 60 years ago on the condition it never be sold.

The state of Tennessee was trying to block the deal, arguing that O'Keefe donated the prized collection for the benefit of Fisk students and local citizens, not to use it to leverage money.

School leaders have been fighting for years for the right to sell some of the paintings. They said they need the $30-million dollars to keep the school from going bankrupt.

"Fisk is healthier today than it was yesterday," O'Leary said in a statement issued Tuesday. ""On behalf of the many students who attend and the faithful alumni and friends, we look forward to working out the details with Chancery Court and the Attorney General."

The appeals court ruling has come six years after Fisk sought a ruling from the Davidson County Chancery Court.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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