Boy Scouts Plan 'Unthinkable' Move to Pay Abuse Claims

Group says it will sell the nearly 60 paintings it owns by Norman Rockwell
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2021 8:41 AM CST
Boy Scouts Will Sell Rockwell Collection to Pay Abuse Claims
This Feb. 4, 2013, file photo, shows a detail of a Boy Scout uniform worn during a news conference in front of the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

The Boy Scouts of America this week proposed establishing a fund of at least $300 million that would be used to settle the more than 80,000 sex-abuse claims it faces. An attorney for 1,000 of those alleged victims called that amount "chump change" in comments to CNN. But amassing even that much will apparently come at a cost to the organization. The reorganization plan the BSA filed in federal bankruptcy court on Monday explains it would sell its collection of Normal Rockwell paintings—almost 60 of them—to generate money for the fund. The New York Times explains the BSA had a decades-long relationship with Rockwell and describes its proposed move as "unthinkable."

The history between the Scouts and the artist dates to 1912 and ran until two years before Rockwell's death in 1978. The documents did not state an appraised value for the paintings, and Rockwell expert Deborah Solomon tells the Times that pieces in the Scouts' collection are not widely thought of as his best, in part, she says, because the BSA generally dictated what and how he painted the commissions. She recounted one 1941 painting showing a scout in a dry and impeccable uniform rescuing a girl amid a hurricane's downpour. "Rockwell was annoyed when he was told to paint out a single water droplet that he had initially painted on the scout’s uniform." The AP adds the documents state the BSA also plans to sell a North Carolina warehouse, a Scouting University facility in Texas, and rights to oil and gas interests on land in 17 states. (More Boy Scouts of America stories.)

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