Monday, September 29, 2008

Corcoran to Deaccession 10 Paintings

From Friday's Washington Post:
The Corcoran Gallery of Art plans to sell 10 paintings from its permanent collection at a public auction in December as a first step toward refining the museum's focus and providing funds for purchasing future works. The sale is an extremely rare move for a Washington museum, but not surprising for the Corcoran, which has grappled with its direction and finances for several years. The sale is part of a forthcoming five-year strategic plan examining what the Corcoran should be and how it can achieve stability. Future sales are under discussion. The lot to be "de-accessioned" includes "John Ellery," an 1810 work by Gilbert Stuart, the master portrait artist, and "The Return From the Tournament" an 1841 landscape by Thomas Cole, a founder of the movement called the Hudson River School.

In recent years, finances of the museum and its College of Art + Design were a matter of concern to the museum's board, the city and the donor base. For many years the museum carried recurring deficits of $1 million or more and had difficulty raising funds for much-needed repairs on the landmark 19th-century building. A vigorous attempt to raise $200 million for an ambitious extension by architect Frank Gehry failed.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Denver Museum of Art Under Investigation

In April, the Denver Art Museum gave a half interest in its Charles Deas
painting Long Jakes (The Rocky Mountain Man), 1844, to local billionaire Philip Anschutz. In exchange Mr Anschutz bought a Western American painting by Thomas Eakins, Cowboy Singing, 1892, and conveyed a half share in it to the

Now the unorthodox arrangement has spurred an enquiry by the Association of Art
Museum Directors (AAMD) to determine whether the deal meets the organisation’s
standards for collection stewardship, deaccessioning and relationships with
private collectors. AAMD sets non-binding guidelines for its members, which
represent 190 of the most prominent museums in North America.

More here.

Auction House Owner Accused of Market Manipulation

Also from The Art Newspaper:

The owner of two of Australia’s leading auction houses has had to deny
rumours that he is buying back his own works, culminating in a complaint to
consumer authorities and a push towards industry self-regulation. Rodney
Menzies, the millionaire businessman and chairman of Menzies Art Brands, had
made no secret that Picasso’s 1954 portrait Sylvette—that was put up for sale in
his Deutscher-Menzies saleroom on 18 June—was being offered from his own


Hispanic Society of America to Deaccession Coins

From The Art Newspaper:

The Hispanic Society of America has recalled 38,000 coins from the American
Numismatic Society (ANS) which have been on loan for more than half a
century—and appears to be preparing to sell them. The valuable collection
consists of coins minted in Spain, its dependencies, and the powers that
controlled Spain from the 5th century BC until the 20th century. They were
deposited at ANS by the organisation’s president and patron Archer Huntington
(1870-1955), who was also founder of the Hispanic Society. Ute Wartenberg Kagan,
executive director of ANS, estimates that the collection may be worth $30m-$40m,
with the Roman gold and silver and a rare 50 excelentes of Ferdinand V and
Isabella—the world’s largest struck-gold coin—alone worth perhaps $15m—$20m.
Sotheby’s and the London-based coin firm Morton & Eden began creating an
inventory and appraising the Roman, Visigoth and Islamic gold coins last month.
A Hispanic Society spokesman says that the trustees “have decided to explore a
deaccession [but] no decision has been made on going forward”. But The Art
Newspaper has seen a copy of a letter that the Hispanic Society’s director
Mitchell Codding sent to Ms Kagan on 25 January 2008 in which he informs her
that “the board of trustees adopted a resolution to deaccession the loan
collection” with the assistance of Sotheby’s International.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Met's Deaccessioning Policy

Here's an interesting place to begin: New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art's own definition of "deaccessioning" and how it applies to it.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art regularly deaccessions and disposes of works of art. The term "deaccession" refers to the internal procedural step by which an object may be removed from the official inventoried collection of the Museum. The term "disposal" refers to the sale, exchange, or other transfer of the work.

  • The Museum may deaccession a work because:

  • The object is no longer relevant to the mission of the Museum or has little value in the Museum's collection.

  • The object is redundant or is a duplicate and is not necessary for research or study purposes.

  • The object is of lesser quality than other objects of the same type that are already in the collection or that are about to be acquired.

  • The object has been found to lack sufficient aesthetic merit or art historical importance to warrant retention.

  • The Museum is unable to preserve the object in a responsible manner.

  • The object is unduly difficult or impossible to care for or store properly.

  • The Museum may also deaccession a work if it is ordered to return an object to its original and rightful owner by a court of law, or the Museum determines that another person or entity is the rightful owner of the object, or the Museum determines that its best interests are served by transferring title to another party.

  • In June 1973, the Board of Trustees approved detailed Procedures for Deaccessioning and Disposing of Works of Art in response to an investigation by the New York Attorney General. The Procedures were updated in February 2005 and are available from the Secretary's Office upon request.

The Met's direct link can be accessed here.