Headley-Whitney to sell home, some art to pay debt

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Associated Press

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 8:01 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Lexington's Headley-Whitney museum is selling buildings, property and several pieces from its collection in order to pay off the debt from adding two wings in 2009.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (http://bit.ly/14jgsgM ) the board will sell La Belle, the former home of George Headley, the jewelry and curio designer who opened the museum on his property in 1978.

The museum currently uses the home to host events like weddings and as a designer's showcase. The museum will ask $1 million for La Belle, along with several outbuildings and 8.42 acres of land.

The Headley-Whitney also is selling some Asian textiles, Chinese porcelain, a Kentucky coin silver pitcher and a few art objects at a February auction.

Like many businesses, the Headley-Whitney was hard hit by the 2008 financial crisis.

It also suffered a devastating theft the previous decade when burglars stole 103 pieces worth $1.6 million. Although the thieves were later caught, most of the curios had been dismantled and sold as scrap.

Board Chairwoman Linda Roach said one of the museum's problems is that the public sees it as "an elitist museum."

To broaden its appeal, the museum has begun bringing traveling exhibits to its new wings and increased its educational offerings for adults and families.

Board members hope the sales of art and property will pay off the museum's debts and increase cash reserves.

"There's no question it is tough," Roach said of the museum's situation. "If selling La Belle, deaccessioning and paying off the wings doesn't work, the museum may not make it."

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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