Injunction Blocking Berkshire Museum Art Auction Extended To Late January

Dec 13, 2017

A Massachusetts appeals court judge has extended an injunction, which blocks the Berkshire Museum's planned auction of parts of its art collection.

The original injunction was issued just a few days before the museum planned to sell the first batch of art, including two paintings by Norman Rockwell.

This extension lasts through January 29. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey requested the extra time to wrap up an investigation into the Berkshire Museum's plans.

“We are pleased that this order will allow us to complete our investigation," Emily Snyder, a spokeswoman for Healey, said in a statement. "In the meantime, we urge the Berkshire Museum to work constructively with us on alternatives to help secure the future of the Museum.”

The museum has pushed to resolve the matter quickly, and said it needs the money from the auction soon in order to survive. Officials said the money would fund renovations and boost the museum's endowment.

"We are disappointed proceedings have been delayed further, preventing this case from being resolved publicly and fairly," William F. Lee, an attorney for the museum, said in a statement. "These delays benefit no one. It is ironic that, during this holiday season when the Museum is visited and enjoyed by more families than ever, its future is placed in grave jeopardy.”

The auction has been the subject of two lawsuits. The plaintiffs in one of the suits include some of Rockwell's children, who oppose the sale.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about what auction house Sotheby's offered the museum. According to The Berkshire Eagle, Sotheby's waived the fees it would charge the museum. It also promised to share with the museum a portion of the fees it collects from buyers, all in an effort to land the contract.

Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.