Etched out

Chagall Exhibit Reveals Fresno Met's Financial Woes

In a scene worthy of The Thomas Crown Affair, Reilly Rhodes entered the Fresno Metropolitan Museum unannounced and removed 65 of Marc Chagall’s early etchings on display. The only difference with this art heist? Rhodes, an art exhibitor from the Contemporary and Modern Print Exhibitions in Laguna Niguel, said he was trying to protect himself, claiming the Fresno Met owes him nearly $10,000 for setting up the exhibit, Chagall for Children, which was scheduled to close in two weeks. According to Rhodes, the museum is 120 days late on its payment for the show, which he feared would close early, leaving him Chagall-less. “I had no choice,” he says of the etchings, rented from Illinois’ Kohl’s Children’s Museum. “I’m responsible to the lenders of the exhibit.” The Fresno Met reopened last year after borrowing $15 million for a $28 million renovation that did not meet its budget, leaving the museum struggling financially. While the museum says on its Web site that it understood Rhodes’ actions, the president of the Fresno Met’s board said, “We want to pay everyone what we owe.” In terms of the downtown California museum’s future, however, the president added, “I won’t lie to you. It doesn’t look good.”