Charles Thompson was a Vermont art dealer. He gave North Attleboro a large painting that is now the source of some controversy. It’s the usual story: should a valuable work of art be kept according to the bequest or sold for its monetary value. The Boston Herald explains:
The saga began in the 1950s, when Thompson donated the enormous, somewhat garish work of Russian painter Alexandre Iacovleff — depicting Afghan men wearing turbans – and hung it proudly in the former high school’s auditorium. There, it seems to have attracted little attention through the decades — until a few years ago, when an art expert attending weekend church services in the auditorium saw the massive painting and told officials it might be a masterpiece, said Town Administrator Mark Fisher.
Sotheby’s appraisers told the town it’s worth $1 million, Fisher said.
Town officials became skittish about displaying the precious painting and how to insure and secure it. So, in 2007, they shipped it off to Sotheby’s for a possible sale, and it has languished in the vaults of the auction house ever since.
[…] Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has informed the town that selling the painting would violate the charitable trust set up by Thompson, who wanted the art to be displayed publicly. His attorney, Stephen Clapp, said the family also offered to provide funds to pay for securing, insuring and maintaining the painting.
At this point, the descendants have had enough.
If the town returns the painting, the family will give it to a recipient who will display it publicly, Smith said.
$1 Million Painting’s Fate Hangs in Limbo (Boston Herald.com)