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The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum may represent the painter's estate but has no right to an art collection she donated to Fisk University, Tennessee's Court of Appeals has ruled.

In the ruling filed Tuesday, the court said any right O'Keeffe had to most of the 101 works of art ended with her death.

The financially struggling university had asked a lower court for permission to sell two of the works — O'Keeffe's 1927 oil painting "Radiator Building — Night, New York," and Marsden Hartley's "Painting No. 3."

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum objected to the plan, arguing that Fisk was violating the terms of the bequest, which required the works be displayed together, and asking for the artwork to be turned over to the estate.

The Davidson County Chancery Court blocked the sale as well as a proposed $30 million arrangement to share the collection with the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark. Nashville Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered last year that the university had to take the collection out of storage and put it back on display or forfeit it to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

But the state appeals court overturned that decision, ruling the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum has no right to the work and no standing in court.

Representatives of the museum could not immediately be reached for comment. They will have 60 days to appeal the decision.

Ninety-seven of the works were part of a collection that belonged to O'Keeffe's late husband, the photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz. O'Keeffe donated those works to the university in 1949 while executing Stieglitz's will.


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