NY Attorney General on Seward House painting dispute

NY's Attorney General says the Thomas Cole painting, Portage Falls on the Genesee, should stay at Auburn's Seward House.

In the fight over the future of a multi-million dollar painting, New York's Attorney General is saying it should stay in Auburn's Seward House.

The opinion 'admits that a sale of the Cole painting by the Emerson Foundation would not be permitted under the terms of the bequest to the Emerson Foundation, under ...the will of William H Seward III.'

The opinion, written by Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wiles, has been submitted to Cayuga County Surrogate Court as part of the dispute over whether the Emerson Foundation has the right to sell the Thomas Cole artwork. The Attorney General's office has jurisdiction over estate disputes.

Seward descendant Ray Messenger is leading the opposition to plans by the Emerson Foundation to sell the painting, which was pulled off display at Seward House last year for security reasons. He's won the right to represent the Seward Estate and says the painting is part of the legacy.

The Emerson Foundation maintains having the valuable painting on display is a security risk. It wants to sell, to fund ongoing operations at the museum.

Cayuga County's Surrogate's Court Judge Thomas Leone will issue a final decision.