After seven years and several court appeals, the agreement between Fisk University and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton to sell a half-share of the $60 million Alfred Stieglitz Collection was finalized in Davidson County Chancery Court on Thursday afternoon.
The controversial arrangement will rotate the collection between Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Fayetteville, Ark., and Fisk every two years. Fisk will receive $30 million in cash in exchange for the half-share.
State Attorney General Robert Cooper challenged the share agreement, claiming it was going against the will of artist Georgia O’Keefe who donated the collection to Fisk in 1949.
According to court documents filed today, Fisk will set aside $3.9 million to create a fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee which will serve the sole purpose of maintaining the art collection.
The Fund for the Care of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University can be utilized by Fisk “or any future owner of Fisk University’s fifty percent ownership interest in the collection,” according to the agreement.
Originally, the attorney general suggested that $20 million be set aside for the future maintenance of the collection. But the Tennessee Court of Appeals struck down that requirement last year.
The influx of $26.1 million to Fisk will boost their bottom line. The school is currently under probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools due to financial issues.
Fisk president Hazel O’Leary — who is set to retire at the end of this year — told The City Paper in April that the much-needed extra cash is “just the kind of thing that SACS would like to see happen.”
“It goes right into our asset base which is one of the measures of financial stability,” O’Leary said.