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August 01, 2014

Fla. Art Donor Sues Museum Over Delays in Building New Wing

Months after Florida State University's Ringling Museum of Art began construction of a new center for Asian art, it is facing the loss of the donation and art collection that prompted the expansion, the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota writes.

Helga Wall-Apelt, a former Ringling board member who in 2006 contributed $6-million for the new wing and pledged her collection of some 1,700 jades, bronzes, sculptures, and photographs, has filed suit against the Sarasota museum, the university, and the affiliated FSU Foundation, claiming they have broached the terms of the gift agreement. The suit seeks the return of her money and the art, the Ringling has held in storage.

Construction of the new center, to be named for Ms. Wall-Apelt, has been delayed multiple times as the museum sought matching funds from government and other sources. "Here we are, almost nine years [after the donation], and she is out $6-million and the use of the collection, and what does she have to show for it?" said Frank Rodriguez, a member of Ms. Wall-Apelt's legal team.

Steven High, the Ringling's executive director, said the museum has "met every element of this gift agreement," which has been amended twice. The new wing is now set to open in January 2016.