Orange County Museum Sells 18 Works Amid Controversy

Is the Orange County Museum of Art hurting as badly as MOCA? Southern California will soon see even less culture, when 18 of OCMA’s 20 impressionist paintings become the property of an anonymous collector who bought them in March for $963,000. The sale has sparked controversy because the public was never given the chance to keep the works in the public domain. And though the Museum is itself nestled in scenic Irvine, officials said the plein air paintings represent a genre the museum no longer shows. But the museum’s director, Dennis Szakacs, defended the sale: “We were exchanging a high level of transparency available in an auction for the desirability of keeping these paintings with a local collector,” he said. “It’s quite possible we could have made more money, but we chose to keep them in the community. I think we made absolutely the correct decision.”