An unwanted art collection in New York

January 20 2013

Image of An unwanted art collection in New York

Picture: Brooklyn Museum

The New York Times reports on an attempted mass deaccession from the Brooklyn Museum, to include the above portrait of Louis XI of France:

The Brooklyn Museum seemed to have garnered a bonanza in 1932 when it received a large bequest from the estate of Col. Michael Friedsam, president of the elegant retail emporium B. Altman.

But eight decades later that cache of Dutch and Renaissance paintings, Chinese porcelains, jewelry and furniture has become something of a burden.

A quarter of the 926 works have turned out to be fakes, misattributions or of poor quality, and the museum potentially faces a hefty bill to store the 229 pieces it no longer wants.

The obvious solution — to deaccession (to sell or give away) the relatively worthless items — has been blocked, however, by clauses in Colonel Friedsam’s will that require the museum to obtain permission from the estate’s executors. The holdup? The last executor died in 1962, said Francesca Lisk, the Brooklyn Museum’s general counsel.

I'm tempted to make an offer for the lot...

Update - a reader writes:

[Brooklyn] sold a Hals in the 1960s (I believe thinking it to be a copy) - it was a highlight of the Met's recent Hals exhibition, and is now recognised as authentic and important.  Hope they do better this time...

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