The Baltimore Museum of Art will pay $8.5 million today to the Maryland Institute, College of Art for the Lucas Collection of prints, paintings and sculptures -- an acquisition made possible in large part by the state's commitment to pay half the cost.
The $8.5 million payment, which marks the end of a long-running battle over the future of the famed art collection, will be made with money from bonds issued by the Maryland Economic Development Corporation.
Over the next five years, the state will pay its share -- about $4.25 million -- to the museum in $850,000 installments. Each payment is subject to legislative approval; the first will arrive in fiscal 1997.
The BMA will redeem the bonds over the next five to seven years, using money from a variety of sources, says director Arnold Lehman. The amount of the museum's debt, including interest, is estimated at $10 million, he says.
The institute, which has owned the Lucas Collection since 1910, announced in early 1995 that it wanted to sell the art to bolster its $9.5 million endowment. The collection includes works by such artists as Edouard Manet, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt and Eugene Delacroix.
Both the BMA and the Walters Art Gallery, which have housed the collection for the past six decades, opposed the sale. The ensuing court battle lasted 17 months.
Last June, in a settlement refereed by City Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan, the three institutions agreed that the collection, appraised at about $11 million, would be sold to the two museums for $8.5 million.
The BMA has already had some contributions toward redeeming the bonds.
The Walters, which houses only a few of the thousands of objects in the Lucas Collection, will pay just under $410,000, says Adena Testa, chairwoman of its board of trustees. That money will be given to the BMA today.
Another $100,000 has been promised by the Baltimore Community Foundation, an organization founded to support families and the cultural sector.
Earlier this fall, the BMA received a $1 million bequest from the late Laurence Bendann, a Baltimore arts supporter and director of the Bendann Art Gallery, a longtime institution on Baltimore Street and later in Towson.
That money was set aside for buying art, says Constance Caplan, president of the museum's board of trustees. "So we approached the family to see if they thought this was an appropriate use of the funds, and they were delighted."
The BMA also has begun efforts to raise the rest of the money, turning first to its trustees and then to other individuals and corporations, Caplan says.
Lehman adds: "The important thing to remember is that this is a done deal for the Maryland Institute but we still owe the principal and the interest in the amount of about $10 million dollars and we have to pay it back to make this a reality."