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Judge Considering Halt To Berkshire Museum Auction

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Creative Commons
The Berkshire Museum in a file photo.

A court hearing was held Wednesday on a request to halt the Berkshire Museum's plans to auction off part of its art collection, including two Norman Rockwell paintings. 

The museum says the money would fund renovations and help grow its endowment. 

For more than two hours, lawyers argued about legal standing, the role of the state attorney general's office and laws that established the Berkshire Museum.

Attorney Michael Keating said the museum broke its own rules by not making public its plans to sell the art for two years.

"They knew that they didn't want to get into a discussion," Keating said.

And then he turned towards the packed gallery of spectators watching the proceedings. "They knew that they didn't want to face this: Two lawsuits and an investigation by the office of the attorney general," he said.

But attorney William Lee said museum officials acted in good faith.

"Loud voices, accusations, character assassination are not the kind of thing that you resolve an issue like this," Lee said.

Berkshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini has taken the matter under advisement.

The first auction is scheduled for November 13.

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