Randy Kennedy reports in the New York Times an 11th-hour lawsuit by two founders of Dia against the foundation to halt the sale of works in Sotheby’s Contemporary art sales next week. Particularly interesting is the suggestion that Dia rejected an offer by another museum to buy Cy Twombly’s ‘Poems to the Sea’ which raises the biggest question about museum de-accessioning: do museums have a responsibility to place de-accessioned works with other institutions even if it reduces the money generated for acquisitions?
Heiner Friedrich and Fariha de Menil Friedrich, who formed Dia in 1974 to support contemporary artists doing challenging work, filed suit in state court in Manhattan on Thursday, seeking an injunction against the foundation and Sotheby’s, which is planning to auction Dia works by luminaries like Cy Twombly, John Chamberlain and Barnett Newman — on Wednesday. Many of the works named in the lawsuit were donated by Mr. and Ms. Friedrich when they created the foundation with the artist-historian Helen Winkler. The lawsuit claims that selling the works to private collectors would remove them “from public access and viewing in direct contravention of Dia’s entire intent and purpose.” The auction would be a breach of an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” with the Friedrichs and the artists who made the works, the suit states. […]
But the court papers also raise the possibility that Twombly’s “Poems,” as well as some Chamberlain works and other Twomblys, might not be legally owned by Dia but might be long-term loans from the Friedrichs. The suit claims that a museum, possibly the Menil, was in discussions to buy “Poems” but that Dia rejected the offer.