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January 16, 2013

1930s Gift Creates Modern-Day Headache for Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum faces hurdles in attempting to rid itself of hundreds of items it received in a 1932 bequest that turned out to be fakes, misattributions, or poor quality, writes The New York Times.

More than a quarter of the 926 Dutch and Renaissance paintings, Chinese porcelains, jewelry, and furnishings the museum obtained from the estate of retail magnate Col. Michael Friedsam are relatively worthless. Efforts to sell or give away the pieces are hamstrung by clauses in Mr. Friedsam's will requiring that the museum get permission to do so from his executors, who have been dead for more than 50 years.

The museum is working with the state attorney general's office to explore legal solutions, but in the meantime it faces extensive costs to store the works under conditions that comply with standards set by the Association of American Museums.