The Boy Scouts of America, one of the largest and longest-running youth organizations in the country, is in serious trouble. Earlier this month, the organization filed for bankruptcy protection amidst years of dwindling membership, criticism regarding whether the scouts should include girls and a torrent of allegations of sexual assault which date back decades. Now, the Boy Scouts are faced with the prospect of dealing with payments associated with 1,700 separate sexual abuse lawsuits, meaning that they’ll have to get creative when it comes to the liquidation of their own resources. According to USA Today, the situation the Boy Scouts currently find themselves in may mean that they’ll have to sell off one of their biggest assets: original Norman Rockwell paintings.
The artist Norman Rockwell is of course well-known for the myriad images he made that solidified utopian, midcentury Americana: a young boy and girl gazing at the moon, a child listening to the radio with grandpa and an idyllic family Thanksgiving dinner were all thoroughly in his wheelhouse. However, one of Rockwell’s longest-running gigs was also illustrating pictures of Boy Scouts in action for the organization’s magazine Boys’ Life. Just as Rockwell was essential to the creation of what people envisioned when they pictured the “American Dream,” he was also integral to the Boy Scout’s visual branding. When you thought of a Boy Scout, it’s likely that you thought of a Rockwell drawing of a strapping young man rescuing a little girl and a kitten, simultaneously.
In a timely twist, the Boy Scouts’ entire Rockwell collection is about to go on display at the Medici Museum of Art in Ohio, and apparently it includes 65 original Rockwell works. Given that Rockwell artworks have sold in the past at auction for up to $46,085,000, it could definitely be in the organization’s best interest to let a couple of paintings go. After all, it seems that they might have decades of misconduct to answer for.