Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Orlando Museum of Art in June and seized 25 paintings that the museum had attributed to Jean-Michel Basquiat but whose authenticity has been questioned, a cascading wave of departures has roiled the leadership of the embattled museum.
Aaron De Groft, who brought the disputed Basquiat show to the museum, was fired in June from his position as the museum’s director. Last week, several members of the museum’s board of trustees who had been discussing plans to seek the resignation of the chairwoman of the board, Cynthia Brumback — over concerns that she had kept the board in the dark about the mounting problems with the Basquiat show — were instead ousted from the board themselves. The museum cited a previously overlooked rule in its bylaws limiting trustees to nine-year terms, which the removed trustees had all exceeded.
Hours after announcing their departure, the museum had another announcement: Without offering any explanation, it said that it had “accepted the resignation” of its new interim director, Luder Whitlock. It was barely six weeks after he had succeeded De Groft, and just a few days after Brumback had praised his “steady command” in an op-ed in The Orlando Sentinel. Since then there has been more upheaval: Brumback has stepped down as the chair at the troubled museum, but she remains on its board.