The works are Edward Hickss Peaceable Kingdom (1840–45), George Bellowss Men of the Docks (1912), Ernest Henningss Through the Arroyo (mid-1920s), and Rufino Tamayos Troubadour (1945).
Randolph College had previously tried to sell the paintings at Christie’s in November 2007, but a group of alumnae, students, and donors obtained a court injunction to stop the sale. When the group was able to raise only $500,000 of a $1 million bond required by the court, the injunction was lifted.
The $500,000 that was raised is now the subject of dispute, with Randolph arguing in court that the delay of the sale has cost the college in unearned interest. A lawyer for the group opposing the sale counters, “The college has the paintings in their possession. We shouldn’t be giving them $500,000 on top of the valuable paintings they already possess.”
Another version of Peaceable Kingdom (Hicks painted 60) is also being offered at Christie’s as part of the oft-delayed fire sale of the collection of jeweler Ralph Esmerian, who owes Merrill Lynch nearly $200 million. Esmerian’s version carries an estimate of $6–8 million. Randolph’s, which is smaller and arguably more peaceable (in place of a leopard in the foreground, there are two children), is estimated to bring in $4–6 million.