Lawyers Say Fight Against Berkshire Museum Will Continue, For Now

Feb 7, 2018

Lawyers representing two sets of clients suing the Berkshire Museum over a proposed art sale say they will continue the legal fight. This comes even as the museum may be close to settling the case with the state attorney general's office. 

The Berkshire Museum and the AG announced this week they're working to resolve their differences about whether the museum is allowed to sell 40 pieces from its art collection. This could also involve going before the state's Supreme Judicial Court. 

But there are other anti-auction groups who were initially thrown off the suit by a Superior Court judge. They're still appealing the decision. Attorney Nicholas O'Donnell, who represents a group of museum members, said they need to keep their options open. 

"Unless and until there's a final outcome that keeps the art in place, then the flip side of that is that the art remains at risk for being sold," O'Donnell said. "My clients believe passionately that they need to do, and want to do, what they can to prevent that."

Two of the works slated for sale are paintings by famous artist Norman Rockwell. Attorney Michael Keating represents another group of plaintiffs, which includes some of Rockwell's children. He told WBUR his clients will also continue to appeal the same decision in the state's appeals court. And he said, they may not stop there.

"We're very interested in the proceeding that the AG and the museum are going to have in the Supreme Judicial Court," Keating said. "I'm sure we'll file an amicus brief or we may seek to intervene in that action if we can." 

Berkshire Museum officials said the sale is needed to boost its endowment and to fund renovations. They say without the money, the museum's future is in doubt. 

This report includes information from WBUR.