The last sale by a public art institution a painting by Colin McCahon was initiated in 1999 when Victoria University decided to put Storm Warning (a gift by McCahon to the university) on the market. You can read an excellent account of what happened in Somebody say something by Gregory O’Brien. As you will guess from O’Brien’s title, there was not much support for holding onto McCahon’s gift. And, if you want to know how slippery things can get, the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Professor Michael Irving, claimed that the sale did not in breach McCahon's wishes because the new owners had agreed that the painting would be made available for public exhibition from time to time. Right.
Image: detail from today's DominionPost story