Attorney General Bob Cooper issued a statement on Tuesday saying that a collection of 110 works of art, given by artist Georgia O'Keeffe to Fisk University, can not be moved. The Tennessee Supreme Court refused to hear the case so the fate of the artwork will be decided in chancery court within months.
In a plan to replenish a diminished trust fund, Fisk wants to sell a half-share in its art collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This arrangement would allow the artworks to be rotated between the two institutions. The Arkansas museum, founded by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, offered $30 million for the half ownership.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which is the artist's estate in New Mexico, sued Fisk, arguing that a sale of the artist's charitable gift to the university would violate her wishes, and instead the collection should revert to its ownership.
O'Keeffe gifted parts of her famous photograher-husband's estate to various institutions. The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art went to Fisk University in 1949. The collection includes two works by O'Keeffe as well as paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Diego Rivera, Arthur Dove, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Demuth, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Gino Severini, Abraham Walkowitz, and Alfred Stieglitz, among others.