Boy Scouts of America sell Rockwells to compensate victims of sexual abuse

Hundreds of works of art, including sixty by Norman Rockwell, will be put up for sale by the Boy Scouts of America, to help compensate the thousands of people who have claimed to be victims of sexual abuse within the main organization of American scouting.

According to documents filed with the Delaware bankruptcy court this week, the organization, which faces nearly 100,000 sexual abuse complaints, intends to sell 59 works by the famous New York painter and illustrator (1894- 1978).

The works, dated 1916 to 1976, reflect the long collaboration between this celebrated columnist of American society and the scout movement. Some paintings bear names closely linked to the traditions of the youth movement, such as The Scoutmaster (The Scout Leader) or The Campfire Story (History around the campfire).

The documents filed in court – nearly 380 pages – do not specify the estimated value of these paintings.

In a statement Wednesday, BSA said the works for sale – which represent almost all of Rockwell’s 65 paintings on scouting, currently on display in an Ohio museum – had yet to be formally estimated.

They will be sold “at the best time to maximize their value”, adds the organization, which hopes to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings in the fall of 2021.

According to the Norman Rockwell Museum, located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where the artist died, Norman Rockwell began working with the Boy Scouts at a young age, in 1912, before being appointed artistic director of their magazine. Boys’ Life several years later.

The Boy Scouts have been rocked in recent years by a huge sexual abuse scandal, which came to light in 2012.

Eight times more complaints than against the clergy

At the end of February 2020, the deadline for benefiting from a compensation fund, nearly 100,000 people had declared themselves victims of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America. Eight times more than the number of complaints filed against the American Catholic clergy, according to lawyers representing victims of these abuses.

Weighed down by these accusations which have already given rise to expensive lawsuits, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, in order to freeze all claims for compensation in court and redirect them to the compensation fund. The latter seeks to raise at least 300 million dollars, according to American media.

The organization, founded in 1910 and which has some 2 million members, ensures that it is now “endowed with a rigorous policy to protect the youth “. Entire pages of the organization’s website are now devoted to its efforts to compensate victims. (AFP)

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