Updated on 09/17/2011 11:46PM

NYRA ordered to remove paintings from auction


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board has sent a letter to the New York Racing Association demanding that the association remove 19 paintings from an auction scheduled for Dec. 2, according to a copy of the letter released by the board.

The letter states that the board "objects to this unauthorized sale of State assets and requests that the art be removed from sale" until NYRA receives approval from both the racing and wagering board and a state oversight panel created earlier this year. The letter further states that the board will seek "injunctive relief" against NYRA through the New York state attorney general if NYRA does not comply with the order to remove the items from the sale.

NYRA consigned 19 pieces of artwork to Sotheby's last month for a larger "sporting art" auction scheduled for Dec. 2. The paintings, which NYRA officials have said were donated to the association over its 55-year history, include a piece by John Frederick Herring Sr. valued at $300,000. In total, NYRA expects the consignment to raise at least $1 million.

The letter sent to NYRA was copied to Sotheby's. A request for comment from the auction house was not immediately returned on Wednesday afternoon.

NYRA consigned the paintings after its chief executive officer, Charles Hayward, told members of the state's oversight panel in early October that the association could go bankrupt by the end of the year if it did not find a way to raise cash before a casino opens at its Aqueduct racetrack in late 2006. NYRA is also attempting to sell 80 parcels of land near Aqueduct, a sale that the oversight panel and the board have also objected to.

Hayward did not return a phone call on Wednesday regarding the letter.