- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2008

ROANOKE (AP) — Randolph College will sell one of four paintings whose sale was blocked last fall by a court injunction, college officials said.

School President John Klein said Friday in an e-mail to students and staff of the Lynchburg college that Rufino Tamayo’s “Troubadour” will be offered next month at Christie’s Latin American art auction in New York. The auction house’s Web site lists the sale as May 28 and 29.

“The timing is just right for this painting right now,” college spokeswoman Brenda Edson said.

Wyatt B. Durrette Jr., a lawyer for opponents of selling the college’s artwork, said he was “really appalled” by the announcement. He said the group was considering several options.

The opponents obtained an injunction to block the sale in November but dropped the case while pursing a court challenge to the 2006 decision by the former women’s school to become coeducational. A decision by the Virginia Supreme Court in the case, expected in early June, also could have the effect of blocking the sale, Mr. Durrette said.

“There’s simply nothing that would justify this kind of urgency,” he said. “It kind of demonstrates a cavalier attitude toward the judicial process.”

Mr. Klein said in his e-mail that the college still intends to sell the other three paintings from its art collection to bolster its $152 million endowment. The school expects to receive about $50 million for the four paintings, with “Troubadour” bringing $2 million to $3 million.

The others, which are in storage at Christie’s, are “Men of the Docks” by George Bellows, “A Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks and “Through the Arroyo” by Ernest Hennings.

Miss Edson said the school has only a few Latin American pieces among its collection at the Maier Museum, and “Troubadour” was not often on display.

In a news release, Christie’s called the 1945 painting an “iconic work” that was leading its sale and had the potential to bring a record price for a Tamayo piece.

Any buyer for the painting would be on notice that the school may not have authority to sell it, Mr. Durrette said, but Miss Edson maintains there are no legal restrictions on the sale. The court case centers on whether the college can spend donations given to a women’s school on coeducation.

Mr. Durrette read from a Dec. 16, 1949, letter that then-college president Theodore Jack wrote to Stephen C. Clark, who donated the Tamayo painting.

“We have, as you may know, here at this little college, a remarkable collection of paintings, and the addition of a Tamayo adds immeasurably to it,” Mr. Jack wrote. “We will cherish this canvas with great pride.”

As a women’s school, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College languished in poor financial shape for years, dipping into its endowment to meet operating expenses.

Sale of the Tamayo painting will help the school reduce the rate at which it spends from the endowment, Miss Edson said. The school has taken other steps as well, including reducing staff and eliminating some programs.

Donations also are increasing, school officials said. Miss Edson said gifts through the end of March totaled more than $8 million for the fiscal year, an increase of 83 percent over the same period last year.

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