Fisk University announced that it has reached a final agreement to share its Stieglitz Art Collection with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
After a legal battle that has lasted nearly eight years, in April The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that it would not hear an appeal of a decision by the Court of Appeals which allowed Fisk University to share its collection. The courts had originally held up the deal because Georgia O’Keeffe, who donated the art collection, which includes many of her works, to the university, stipulated that the art could not be sold. Fisk University maintained that it needed to generate funds from this valuable asset to remain financially viable.
Now Fisk and the museum have reached an agreement on how the collection will be shared. The art will remain at Fisk until the fall of 2013. It will then be displayed at the museum for a two-year period. Subsequently, the collection will rotate between the two institutions every two years.
Under the agreement, Fisk received a $30 million payment from the museum. The ownership of the title of the collection will be placed in a new limited liability corporation that will be owned by the museum and the university in equal shares.
Fisk will use nearly $6 million of the payment to pay for its legal fees associated with the eight-year battle to share or sell the collection. Slightly more than $1.6 million will be used to settle local bank obligations. About $2.2 million will be allocated to current operating needs and more than $15 million will be added to the university’s endowment. Another $5 million is being set aside for initiatives that will be decided by the next president of the university. Fisk is currently searching for a new president.