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Maryland AG asked to block Baltimore museum’s artworks sale

October 16, 2020 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — A group of art lovers wants Maryland officials to block the Baltimore Museum of Art’s proposed sale of three works of art, among them Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.”

A letter was sent Wednesday night to Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday. The letter asks them to halt the planned planned private sale of the Warhol painting as well as the Oct. 28 auction of Clyfford Still’s “1957-G” and Brice Marden’s “3.”

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The group’s letter also asks Frosh to launch an investigation into alleged improprieties targeting the museum’s decision to sell the three items.

“There were irregularities and potential conflicts of interest in the sales agreement” and the process by which the decision was made, the letter says. It added that the Warhol work, in particular, “is likely being sold, or already has been sold, at a bargain-basement price.”

In response, the museum said it has broken no laws and violated no ethics codes in the “deaccessioning,” the term for the museum’s decision to remove artworks from its permanent collection and put them up for sale, the newspaper reported.

The museum’s board of trustees voted Oct. 1 to sell the three works to fund diversity initiatives, including staff salary increases. Museum director Christopher Bedford has said the three works were expected to bring approximately $65 million.