February 19, 2012; Source: Denver Post | The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver started with a business plan that might resemble many others, figuring that some fees from a $10 admittance charge, a little government money and some donor support might just cover its $2.5 million annual budget. But then last year it managed to auction off three paintings for $114 million at Sotheby’s—bringing the museum $99 million, which has been invested to provide at least $3.9 million annually, by conservative estimates. So what is the museum devoted to this renowned abstract expressionist to do?
For now, it seems unwilling to relinquish its other funding sources. Museum director Dean Sobel says he believes that charging an entrance fee gives a museum an intrinsic worth. One might suggest that he have more faith in the value of the art itself, much of which has never before been publicly available, but he may still be reeling from an incident late last year when a patron (who presumably had paid the entrance fee) damaged one of the paintings by punching it and rubbing her buttocks on it. Perhaps this is what has made him doubt the discernment of the public? –Ruth McCambridge