BROOKLYN MUSEUM OF ART EMITS NEW STENCH
Catalyst December Issue 1999
In a front-page story in the New York Times, it was revealed that unethical practices have colored the “Sensation” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The director of the museum, Arnold L. Lehman, pressed both Charles Saatchi, the owner of the art, and Christie’s, the prestigious auction house, for financing (the latter was given perks for doing so). Indeed, museum officials also raised money from art dealers who represent several of the artists in the exhibition. As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars exchanged hands.
As a result of this development, the Catholic League called for Mr. Lehman’s dismissal in a news release; a letter was also sent to all the trustees of the museum asking for his removal. Here is what the league told the press:
“Arnold L. Lehman should be terminated for violating the public trust. Not only did he give the green light to a gross exhibition that featured a frontal assault on Roman Catholicism, he engineered a boatload of money from those who stood to personally profit from this venture. Like all cabals, this one reeks with corruption, making it impossible for the public to have confidence in Mr. Lehman’s leadership.
“The fact that museum officials literally lied to the press about the role of Charles Saatchi is the icing on the cake. Moreover, Saatchi was no dupe: he forked over $160,000 to the museum and then tried to conceal his ‘philanthropy’ from the public. But had ‘Charlie Hustle’ been a pimp for the Church—by sponsoring reverential art—everyone who is now willing to turn his head would instead be calling for Charlie’s head.
“We will write to the trustees of the museum requesting that they issue Mr. Lehman a pink slip. If this doesn’t work, we will explore other avenues.”
In a related story, the Catholic League blasted the Speaker of the New York City Council, Peter F. Vallone, for writing a “Friend of the Arts” letter celebrating the preliminary injunction that the courts granted against Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s attempt to stop funding of the museum.
In a statement to the press, the league said, “It is so nice to know that Peter Vallone has such a chummy relationship with his ‘Friends of the Arts.’ Perhaps some day he’ll get around to addressing his fellow Catholics; we’re dying to know how he feels about public funding of artistic bigotry aimed at his own religion.” The league concluded by suggesting that Vallone take “a cue from Rudy [Giuliani]” and start “paying attention to home base, instead fo currying favor with his ‘Friends of the Arts.’”