The deal is done: Laurentian can’t sell Bell Mansion until 2025

The agreement with the occupant of the current building, Art Gallery of Sudbury, means the Bell Mansion cannot be sold until 2025 if the new home for the art gallery is not ready.

The legal advisor to the Sudbury Art Gallery and Laurentian University have reached an agreement meaning LU has the right to eventually sell the Bell Palace, but the AGS can continue to use it as gallery space for another three years.

The agreement also sets out the terms under which Laurentian University can sell artworks in the gallery’s collection.

Due to the history of the relationship between the Sudbury Art Gallery and Laurentian, the assets associated with the gallery have been discovered in the Laurentian insolvency restructuring.

Documents related to the matter were first brought before the courts early this spring, and a hearing was scheduled for May.

However, negotiations between the parties continued until a consensual agreement was reached, and it was signed on 17 June by Chief Justice Jeffrey Morawitz, the judge who handled most matters relating to Laurentian’s bankruptcy.

After obtaining a copy of this agreement, reached out to both the Sudbury Art Gallery and Laurentian University.

Dimitra Christakos, director of the Sudbury Art Gallery, said Tuesday that the gallery is in the process of finalizing a public statement, which will be available within the next few days. She said she understood that there was still a legal document to implement.

Llorente President Robert Hatchey issued the following statement on June 22.

“We are proud of Laurentian University’s art collection, and grateful to the curators of the artworks donated to the university and purchased by the university over the past 60 years,” the statement said.

“We recently resolved a dispute raised by Art Gallery of Sudbury which includes an acknowledgment that the art collection is not owned or owned by the art gallery.

As part of that settlement, Laurentian agreed to allow the Art Gallery to continue to occupy the Bell Mansion on current terms until May 2025, and that any sale of the Bell Mansion by Laurentian would not be completed until that time.

“The full terms of the decision are reflected in the judge’s written acknowledgment of the CCAA proceeding on June 17, 2022, available on the Monitor website.”

The Sudbury Art Gallery has its roots in the Laurentian University Museum and Arts Center (LUMAC), a gallery established in the late 1960s.

Laurentian University transferred the art gallery operation to a community group called Art Gallery of Sudbury in 1997.

Although the intention was to formally transfer assets such as the Bell Mansion and the art collection to the Art Gallery of Sudbury, this never happened.

Last summer, the Sudbury Art Gallery filed a claim of approximately $6.4 million against Laurentian University in connection with a number of assets, including Bell Palace and its grounds, bequeathed funds to support the gallery, and the art library and library.

The Art Gallery’s claim against Laurentian was dismissed by Ernst & Young, the company acting as a court-appointed observer of the LU bankruptcy process, last winter.

However, this spring the show said it had already made that claim in error, and sought to have its claim withdrawn from the CCAA process, which is how Morawetz ended up doing so.

Ernst & Young has opposed the idea of ​​allowing the Sudbury Art Gallery to withdraw its claim, saying it would treat that claim differently than the others.

In a report released on April 13, Ernst & Young said LU “intends to sell the Bell Palace, and may include it, or the proceeds from the sale, in the plan to be presented to creditors.”

Ernst & Young also mentions the gallery’s art collection in the report. “Screen also understands that LU is considering all of its options with respect to the art group’s assets,” the report said.

The June 17 consensual agreement between Laurentian and the art gallery allows AGS to withdraw its claim against Laurentian.

The agreement also addresses both the Bell Palace and the art collection.

With respect to the Bell Mansion, Laurentian will allow the art gallery to continue using the building “in accordance with its current use” until prior to: 90 days after the completion of the Junction Center (which has yet to be built, a proposed new downtown home for AGS) or 30 May 2025 (referred to as the “eviction date” in the court document).

Laurentian will be free to sell Bell Mansion, provided that no closing date for such sale is prior to the eviction date (as defined above), and AGS undertakes not to take any steps to obstruct or object to the sale.

The agreement also stated that AGS would continue to take responsibility for and pay for maintenance at the Bell Mansion that it now covers, and as such, Laurentian would not charge AGS rent prior to the eviction date.

The foregoing terms will be binding on any subsequent purchaser of Bell Mansion, in connection with AGS’ continued occupation of Bell Mansion until the date of eviction.

With regard to the technical package, the June 17 agreement acknowledges the complexity of this group, in terms of any restrictions placed by donors. Family members of art donors have spoken out against the idea of ​​selling the donated art to pay off LU debts.

The agreement stated that “the collection includes artworks that may have been donated with restrictions, donated without restrictions, purchased by Laurentian or others and obtained from other sources.”

The agreement said Laurentian would continue to comply with any applicable terms or restrictions that the artwork might be subject to.

The agreement stated that Art Gallery of Sudbury “will agree as part of the settlement that it does not own the art and, for all purposes, does not or does not have any proprietary interest or any similar type of interest in the art collection as well as the BA McDonald’s Trust (which was a bequest) for the former LUMAC company).

However, at the same time, the agreement between the parties said “Nothing in the Settlement Agreement will constitute an express or implied acknowledgment by the AGS that LU owns Art.”

Laurentian also confirmed as part of the agreement that he does not intend to take any steps to sell the artwork prior to the plan to implement the arrangement under the Corporate Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process.

“Following the implementation of the plan, Laurentian agrees that it will provide 90 days’ notice from AGS of any intention to sell artwork operated or displayed by AGS,” the agreement said.

The agreement states that the Art Gallery of Sudbury will continue to be eligible to exhibit art under the same terms that have existed since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 1999 until the “evacuation date”, subject to any new agreement negotiated and agreed upon by the parties.

The parties also agreed to “engage in discussions in good faith to determine whether a new agreement can be reached on terms acceptable to both parties, with the assistance of a court-appointed observer, with respect to the administration and presentation of the art and its costs and responsibilities.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is Associate Content Editor at It also covers the education and art scene.

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