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Baltimore museum sells blue-chip art to buy works by minority artists

Five works made around $18m (with fees) at auctions at Sotheby’s New York on 19 May, and two were bought for undisclosed sums in private sales

Zanele Muholi’s Collen Mfazwe, August House, Johannesburg (2012) Zanele Muholi

“Deaccession” is not always a dirty word: in a move respecting standard US museum practice, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has sold seven works by blue-chip male artists, including Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, for acquisition funds to diversify its contemporary collection. Five works made around $18m (with fees) at auctions at Sotheby’s New York on 19 May, and two were bought for undisclosed sums in private sales. The first group of works in this ongoing acquisition initiative, made primarily by female artists and artists of colour from 1943 to the present, are up for approval by the BMA’s board and acquisitions committee this month. The museum also recently acquired new works to fill collection gaps, by artists including Zanele Muholi, Jack Whitten and Trevor Paglen.