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Rockwell painting sold to mystery museum

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (NEWS10) – A Norman Rockwell painting at the center of controversy will stay in the public eye.

Not many people realize how influential the Berkshires were to Norman Rockwell and how the people and places here inspired most of his work.

“Most of Stockbridge looks like it was taken right out of one of Rockwell’s magazines and he relied on neighbors and friends that informed his work. It had the next door neighbor appearance that Rockwell is known for,” Jeremy Clowe, Norman Rockwell Museum Media Services manager, said.

Fifteen miles away in Pittsfield, two iconic paintings donated by Rockwell himself, have been at the center of a legal storm.

The Berkshire Museum’s controversial art sale has been blocked by lawsuits and court rulings.

“It’s been exhausting. But the reality is the museum and the board have been committed to keeping this place open,” Elizabeth McGraw, Berkshire Museum Board of Trustees, said.

The financially strapped museum planned to auction off dozens of artwork to private buyers to help bankroll a $55 million reinvention plan, transforming the museum into an interactive experience.

“The amount of information on this touch screen is truly amazing. So the hope is to use these touch screens to educate people even more on an object or a story.”

Rockwell’s masterpiece, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, has been spared from the chopping block.

A mystery museum in the U.S. has agreed to buy the painting, which is appraised at $20 million to $30 million.

After the transaction, the artwork will go on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for up to two years.

“We are so pleased because not only is Shuffleton going into the public eye, but the museum’s future is restored.”

The future is still up in the air for 39 other pieces of artwork including another iconic Norman Rockwell painting.