Once upon a time, the Brooklyn Museum was poised to be the largest art museum in the world. The building of the Brooklyn Museum, designed by McKim, Mead and White, opened in 1897, and the Museum received thousands of donations and bequests from affluent city residents and natives, including Colonel Michael Friedsam (1932 bequest) and Minor C. Keith (1934 purchase).

Friedsam bequest contains almost one thousand works, of which a quarter is deemed undesirable (fakes, misattributions or shabby). According to the terms of the bequest, the museum must obtain permission from the Friedsam estate’s executors to deaccession any of these objects. According to the Museum’s general counsel, Francesca Lisk, the last Friedsam executor died fifty years ago in 1962. Therefore, it is impossible to give literal effect to the bequest document.

Apparently, the Brooklyn Museum is working with the New York State Attorney General’s Office to resolve the bequest conundrum, further complicated by Friedsam’s will… (to be continued).

Source: The New York Times;
Image: Portrait of Louis XI, marked for deaccessioning (Brooklyn Museum).