Mass. AG calls for halt to plan to sell artworks

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Attorney General Maura Healey is joining a call for the Berkshire Museum to halt its plan to sell off artworks, including two Norman Rockwell paintings given to the museum by the artist.

The request came in response to a motion filed recently by three sons of Rockwell, and others, seeking a temporary restraining order against the museum's plan to sell 19 of the works at auction beginning next month. That suit named Healey as a party of interest in the complaint, a move that required her office to respond.

"Any sale of the art in question in violation of the law would result in irreparable harm to the public interest," according to a 27-page response issued by Healey's office on Monday.

The attorney general's office is currently conducting a review of the sale, which it has not yet completed. Monday's response is not the attorney general's last word on the matter, but to preserve the status quo, the office joins the motion for a temporary restraining order.

"There are a number of aspects of the Museum's plans that raise concerns, some of which the Plaintiffs have detailed in their Complaint, and others of which have arisen in the course of the AGO's investigation," the response says.

In the motion filed Oct. 20, the Rockwells joined with community members to seek a temporary restraining order barring a Nov. 13 auction by Sotheby's on the grounds that it is not allowed under state statute and would violate what they see as the museum's duty to act in the public interest.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court before Judge John Agostini.

This story will be updated.


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