To the editor:

It is now obvious that many citizens of Berkshire County are vehemently opposed to the auction of the 40 works of art (many of them masterpieces) from the collection of the Berkshire Museum. All the arguments for keeping the collection intact have been clearly made. What has not been discussed is the monetary value of the works. The two Norman Rockwells are worth easily $30 million.

Smaller and less ambitious works by Rockwell have auctioned for $10 and $12 million in the last few years. The paintings of Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt do not come up for auction since there are so few available. Small works by William Bougereau recently auctioned for $4 million. These 40 paintings are possibly worth well over $150 million. It seems to me that something is very wrong.

Frederic Church was not only a great painter, but a great man of science, making thousands of drawings of the flora and fauna as he traveled and sending them to Alexander Von Humboldt, the German naturalist. These paintings epitomize the great American spirit that existed in the 19th century. Church's house, Olana, a few miles away, sits above the Hudson River looking across to his teacher, Thomas Cole's, studio. Pittsfield and the Berkshire Museum are an integral part of this great heritage.

Are we going to allow these masterpieces to be sold to the highest bidder, spirited away, never to be seen by the public again? This travesty must be stopped and the 40 paintings returned to their rightful home.

Warner Friedman,