Tuesday, January 29, 2013
At the time, Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the widow of the Johnson & Johnson heir, owned the painting, which she inherited from her late husband. He, in turn, had bought it via Harold Diamond, Inc., from Columbia University, for roughly $1 million in 1975 (about $4 million in today’s currency)—a fairly scandalous sale that rankled university constituents who disapproved of the institution’s decision to pad its endowment at the expense of a historic work. The painting had hung in the campus administration building stormed by students during the May 1968 occupation, and was protected by the protestors, who returned it to the police in the midst of their demonstration in order to insure its safety.
Brandeis University drew similar criticism in 2009 for attempting to sell off the contents of its Rose Art Museum—including paintings by contemporary masters like de Kooning, Warhol, Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein—to cope with the depressed economy’s effect on its finances... more