Former Professors Sue Indiana University, Halting Art Sale

Former Professors Decided to Sue the Valparaiso University and Its President In Order to Stop Art Sale From the Brauer Museum of Art.

Apr 27, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Former Professors
Brauer Museum of Art. WIkipedia


Former professors from Indiana University, the Valparaiso are suing the school and its president Jose Padilla. Overall, this dispute occurred over three artworks in the Brauer Museum of Art’s possession, which professors tried to sell. Those three artworks are Georgia O’Keeffe’s Rust Red Hills, and two others by Frederic E. Church and Childe Hassam. They are worth around $20 million.


Former Professors: Selling Violates Agreement With Donor

Former Professors
The Brauer Museum of Art at Indiana’s Valparaiso University. Photo courtesy of the Brauer Museum of art.


Former professors want to stop the sale of previously mentioned artworks, so they filed a lawsuit to the Porter County Superior Court in Indiana. They also submitted all the documents to the court on Monday. The plaintiffs stated the reasons for filing the lawsuit: the sale is in violation of the agreement reached with the donor of these works of art. The donor was Percy H. Sloan.


The plaintiffs are Richard Brauer, the former director of the museum for which the museum is named, and Philip Brockington, a former law professor at the university. At a court hearing on Wednesday, the request for the restraining order followed the dismission. This information stated Patrick B. McEuen. He is a lawyer from Indiana that represents the claimants. McEuen also said he received “assurances the proposed auction was months away and likely would not occur before September”.


Chapel of the Resurrection
Chapel of the Resurrection (Valparaiso, Indiana)


Brauer and Brockington’s lawsuit says the sale is “immediate danger of suffering a direct injury to the reputation of the art museum”. Also, that 2 “any harm to the museum will frustrate the purposes and intents of the Brockington Reeve Endowment Fund”. The plaintiffs also got a support from the Association of American Museum Directors (AAMD). The organization condemned current museum director’s moves.

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The Many Other Indiana University’s Tried to Sell Artworks

Jose Padilla
Valparaiso University President Jose Padilla (Michael Gard/Post-Tribune). (Michael Gard/Post-Tribune)


The president said the funds from the sold works of art will serve as money for renovating the student rooms for freshmen. The goal is also to attract more students. Also, another reason for selling paintings is the bad financial situation in which the university is. The lawsuit also names Todd Rokita, Indiana’s attorney general, as defendant.


“Mr. Brauer, who lent his name to the museum, and Mr. Brockington, who has endowed a fund to maintain and preserve the museum, are heartsick at the thought that Percy Sloan’s intent to build a permanent memorial to his parents in the form of an art museum would be ignored by Valparaiso University”, McEuen said.


Frederic E. Church
Frederic E. Church, Mountain Landscape (c. 1849). Courtesy of the Brauer Museum of Art at Indiana’s Valparaiso University.


Valparaiso University is among a group of other schools throughout the country that have made controversial attempts to sell works, in order to fund campus operations. Fisk University in Tennessee and Rockford College in Illinois, alongside Randolph College in Virginia and Brandeis University in Massachusetts, have all been the subjects of similar debates around plans to deaccession gifted artwork.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.