Orange Co. Museum Makes Secret Deal with Local Collector


Today, Tyler at Modern Art Notes points out:

The Orange County Museum of Art has sold 18 paintings at roughly…half price to an unnamed private collector. Mike Boehm has the story in the LA Times.

From the LA Times article:

OCMA director Dennis Szakacs said the paintings from the early 1900s fetched a total of $963,000 in late March from a Laguna Beach collector whose identity the museum promised not to disclose.

Sounds incredibly shady and it’s not exactly the type of thing that builds public trust. OCMA justifies the deal by saying that atleast the paintings are staying local, they don’t really fit into the museum’s recent focus (post-1950s art), and the money will be used to buy art for the collection.

But two local art institutions tell the LA Times that perhaps the fire sale wasn’t a good idea:

That doesn’t wash with Bolton Colburn, director of the Laguna Art Museum, and Jean Stern, director of the Irvine Museum. Both say that if they’d known the California Impressionists were for sale, they would have sought donors to bankroll bids. The genre, often called “plein air painting,” is important to both museums.

More details & perspectives about the sale in the LA Times article.

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