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Lucas Museum Revealed as Buyer of Prized Norman Rockwell Painting

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the George Lucas–backed institution that broke ground in Los Angeles last month, has purchased the beloved Norman Rockwell painting that the Berkshire Museum in Massachusetts almost sent to a New York auction house in an attempt to raise $55 million.

“We are very excited to have it join our collection,” Don Bacigalupi, the director of the Lucas Museum, told the New York Times. “This will be one of the anchor works of our museum, which we’re delighted to share with the public.” Filmmaker George Lucas, best known as the creative mind behind the popular sci-fi saga Star Wars, has already amassed a large collection Rockwell’s works.

The painting was originally created in 1950 as a cover for the_ Saturday Evening Post and _was gifted to the Berkshire Museum by the artist himself, which was one of the reasons there was such an uproar over the institution’s decision to deaccession the piece.

The museum’s plan to sell forty works from its collection as part of its New Vision initiative, which comprises the funding of a renovation project, led to a lengthy legal battle that just concluded last week when Massachusetts’s highest court cleared the way for the Berkshire Museum to move forward with the sales. The legal proceedings were closely watched by much of the cultural sector since the case has sparked a national debate about the responsibility of museums today.

Set to open in 2022, the Lucas Museum will loan the work, which it acquired for an undisclosed amount, to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The canvas was estimated to rake in up to $30 million had it gone to Sotheby’s in New York, where the other pieces will be auctioned next month.