Attorney General's office digs into Berkshire Museum's planned art sale


PITTSFIELD — Officials from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office have met with Berkshire Museum leaders as part of its investigation into whether the museum's plan to auction artwork to fund its "New Vision" falls within the state's charities law.

In July, the museum announced its plans to auction the works, some of which were donated, as part of its $60 million reinvention plan for the 114-year-old South Street institution. The auction, which will be run by Sotheby's, is expected to yield at least $50 million.

Officials from the AG's office said charitable nonprofits are held to certain legal standards that dictate how they handle donated materials and spend the money they raise.

They declined to be more specific, citing the ongoing investigation, but said a formal decision in the matter is forthcoming.

Museum leaders didn't respond to questions sent by The Eagle about the investigation.

Under state statutes and regulations, the AG is charged with preventing "breaches of public trust" in the use of funds given to public charities like the Berkshire Museum.

"The attorney general, whenever he believes that charitable funds have not been or are not being applied to charitable purposes or that breaches of trust have been or are being committed in the administration of a public charity, may conduct an investigation upon application to and with the approval of a judge of the trial court," the law states.

Reach Amanda Drane at 413-496-6296, or @amandadrane on Twitter.



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