DES MOINES, Iowa — Debate over the sale of a Jackson Pollock painting valued at $140 million is over this legislative session because there is little chance of reaching consensus on the issue, a House Republican leader said Monday.
Rep. Scott Raecker, R- Urbandale, said with all the other issues lawmakers need to focus on this year "it appears the sides are so far apart that it is not a good use of legislative time.
"There is too wide a gulf to build consensus on this this year," the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee told The Associated Press.
Raecker said lawmakers will be busy focusing on budget issues and that "there is not the time and energy and possibly the will to bring these participants to a common ground."
The announcement comes less than a week after a House appropriations subcommittee voted to sell the painting, which was donated to the University of Iowa by art dealer Peggy Guggenheim in 1951. She died in 1979.
The 8-by-20-foot painting titled "Mural" is the centerpiece of the university's art collection, but some lawmakers were considering a proposal to sell it and use the proceeds to fund art scholarships.
A spokesman for the university referred questions Monday to the Board of Regents, which oversees the state's universities.
Earlier this month, board President David Miles issued a statement that said the proposed sale of the painting is a "profoundly bad idea."
On Monday, Miles said he appreciated Raecker's effort to "put a spotlight on increased financial aid for our students ... but I'm pleased this action will not go forward.
"I hope this decision not to proceed brings closure to the discussion because we have a terrific asset here that I believe will become ever more valuable, not just financially, but in the education of our students as well," Miles said.
The regents examined the possible sale of the painting in 2008 and rejected the idea.
Over the weekend, the American Association of Museum's accreditation commission sent a letter to lawmakers condemning the sale. Commission chairwoman Bonnie Styles wrote that the sale could jeopardize the University of Iowa Museum of Art's accreditation. Without accreditation, the museum could fall out of favor with donors and the public, Styles wrote.
Pollock, an American painter and major figure in the expressionist movement, died in 1956 at the age of 44.
Rep. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids, said selling the painting would be "cultural vandalism."
``To sell it is like the biggest poke in the eye to the (expressionist) movement,'' Taylor said.