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Museum of Fine Arts v. Beland
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
735 N.E.2d 1248 (2000)
William Wolcott died in 1911. In his will, Wolcott bequeathed 17 paintings to the trustees of a charitable trust (the trustees) (defendants). The provisions of the bequest stipulated that the paintings should be exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts (the MFA) (plaintiff) in Boston or in an art gallery in a nearby town for the purpose of encouraging public interest in fine art. Decades later, three of the paintings were on permanent display in the MFA. The other 14 were kept in storage by the MFA. However, the MFA still permitted interested parties to view the 14 paintings. The trustees expressed a desire to sell some or all of the paintings to private collectors. Upon learning this, the MFA sought declaratory judgment in the Massachusetts Superior Court. There was no evidence that the trustees had explored alternative options for exhibition. The MFA moved for summary judgment. The judge granted the motion as to the three paintings on display but concluded that a trial was necessary to determine whether the trustees should be allowed to sell the 14 paintings in storage. The trustees applied for direct appellate review. The Massachusetts Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Greaney, J.)
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