Regents disagree over Pollock painting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Regents disagree over Pollock painting

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URBANDALE (KWWL) -- Two members of the Iowa Board of Regents are at odds over House Study Bill 84.

The bill would require the University of Iowa to sell the Jackson Pollock painting titled "Mural," which had an estimated value of $140 million in 2008.  Proceeds from the sale would be used to create a trust fund for undergraduate scholarships.

Board of Regents President David Miles says selling the painting is a "profoundly bad idea." He argues the sale would hurt the art program and even lead to litigation with the family who originally donated the painting.

Regent Michael Gartner, a former Board of Regents president, says the scholarships are more important than owning the painting.

Terms of the sale would require the painting to be on loan to the university every 4 years for at least 3 months.

Iowa Board of Regents President David Miles released the following statement:

The proposal in House Study Bill 84 to force the Board of Regents to sell the Jackson Pollock painting, "Mural", is a profoundly bad idea – one that was examined by the Iowa Board of Regents in 2008 and determined to be not in the best interests of the University of Iowa or the state.

It has taken decades for the University of Iowa to build an enviable art collection and outstanding art education programs. A forced sale of this painting by the Iowa Legislature would break trust with all who have contributed to the arts at the UI over the years, would chill any future donations, and may well lead to litigation with the family that donated "Mural" to the University of Iowa in the first place. If HSB 84 simply created a scholarship fund for Iowa students majoring in art, it would have my full support. Within the context of HSB 84, however, the scholarship proposal is a fig leaf obscuring the irreparable damage this action would cause to art education at the University of Iowa. Crippling an outstanding program in order to provide scholarships for that very same program doesn't make sense and is a trade-off Iowans should reject.

Then, a short time later, Regent Michael Gartner released this statement:

In response to the statement released earlier today by Board of Regents President David Miles, Regent Michael Gartner disagrees. Gartner believes that providing scholarships to Iowa students is far more important than owning a painting that is not on the campus, has not been for two years, and is unlikely to be for at least another three years. All organizations regularly look at their assets and ask if that's the best use of money. In this case, the proceeds of as much as $150 million could be used for a far better purpose.

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