Art: Breach of Trust

It was a singular gesture for a profession whose lubricant, next to money, is tact; but in Manhattan last week, the Art Dealers' Association of America, representing the 86 leading art merchants in the country, loosed a statement denouncing the world's most powerful museum, the Metropolitan, and its director Thomas Hoving. "The sale by museums of important works in their collections," said the A.D.A., was "in the nature of a breach of a public trust."

For decades the Met has been selling—or, in the museum's oblique officialese, "de-accessioning"—works of art to raise money for other purchases. This is common and legal museum...

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