Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sell it all; sell it now

(photo: John Blanding, Boston Globe)

Glasstire reports that the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University is selling off its permanent collection. The school is strapped for cash. The museum will close sometime in the coming summer. I've not seen any timeline for the deaccession of the museum's collection of more than 6,000 works. It's a rich stash of modern and contemporary art that could bring millions into the school's coffers if the sale is orderly, and if the market for its prizes doesn't further collapse. A Washington Post story says that the museum's holdings were appraised at $350 million in 2007.

Artists represented in the collection include Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Matthew Barney, Helen Frankenthaler, Nan Goldin, Alfredo Jaar, Donald Judd, Annette Lemieux, Robert Mangold, Judy Pfaff, Anri Sala, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith, and Jackie Windsor.

A steaming pile of blame for the university's financial distress lies on the head of alleged financial crook Bernard Madoff. From the Post story:

The private school, based in Waltham, Mass., has suffered investment losses and spent other funds on a construction boom. Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz also said in a Jan. 7 letter that some "staunch and generous" donors were hurt by Bernard Madoff's alleged fraud.

"It's like a one-two-three punch: The economy tanks, they overbuilt at the peak of the market, and their largest donor was hit dramatically by the Madoff scandal," said Mark Williams, a Boston University senior lecturer who specializes in risk management and has studied Brandeis's finances.

Among Brandeis's largest donors are philanthropists Carl and Ruth Shapiro. Carl Shapiro and his family foundation had losses of $545 million in Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme, according to the Boston Globe.

My wife just said she wants Madoff to hurt and hurt bad, but it's not possible for him to hurt enough.

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