The deadline for raising $5 million to keep Gilbert Stuart's famous portraits of George and Martha Washington in Boston Expires today with the funds drive still short of its goal.
The public campaign, launched earlier this year when the Boston Athenaeum proposed to sell the paintings to the National Portrait Gallery for $5 million, has reportedly raised only about $1 million so far. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, where the paintings now hang, has promised to match the total money raised from the general public dollar for dollar.
But campaign workers say they are not beaten yet, even though they may not have the money by the deadline. "We're trying to get a final tally on money collections and pledges not yet accounted for," said John Newton, a spokesman for the fund-raisers.
And meanwhile, no one is quite sure whether a shortfal of the public appeal will mean that George and Martha will someday move to Washington.
Gen. James Gavin, a world War II paratrooper who is leading the Boston fund-raising effort, said yesterday that he believes the paintings will stay at the Museum of Fine Arts, where they've hung for more than a century.
Gavin said the cmapaigners' lawyers are meeting with the Athenaeum's attorneys, and some compromise price may be reached. "It's quite sensitive," he said. "Our lawyers are in contact with their lawyers day to day." Gavin added there is a chance the Museum of Fine Arts will want the paintings badly enough to increase their matching contribution.
"It's all very sad," said Athenaeum director Rodney Armstrong. "This is my nightmare of how it would end up."