Virginia’s Maier Museum of Art Sanctioned for Selling George Bellows Painting

George Bellows, Men of the Docks (1912).
George Bellows, Men of the Docks (1912).

Randolph College‘s Maier Museum of Art in Virginia has been sanctioned by the Association of Art Museum Directors for selling a George Bellows painting to help fund the college’s operations. The painting, Men of the Docks (1912), was purchased by London’s National Gallery for US$25.5 million last month. As a provision of the sale, the National Gallery will partner with the Maier on a London-based internship program for Randolph College students, and a lecture series at the school featuring National Gallery curators.

Although the Maier is not an AAMD member, the organization is advising its 236 members in the US, Canada, and Mexico not to collaborate with or loan artwork to the Virginia museum. A statement from the AAMD acknowledges that the Maier has kept the work in a public collection, but argues that selling artwork to raise money for the college “is a violation of one of the most fundamental professional principles of the art museum field.”

The museum was previously disciplined by the AAMD in 2008 for the sale of Rufino Tamayo’s Trovador (1945), which fetched US$7.2 million at Christie’s. Four institutions are expected to act on the sanction and cancel planned exhibitions of work from the Maier.


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