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New York, Brooklyn museum settle funding dispute
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Brooklyn Museum of Art's dispute with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been resolved, according to a court order released Monday.
In a wide-ranging settlement, the museum and the city have agreed to drop their separate legal actions against one another, stemming from last year's controversial "Sensation" exhibit.
"Everything is being dropped," said Floyd Abrams, attorney for the museum. "There is no more litigation about this."
In November, the museum scored a key victory when a federal judge ordered the city to restore public funding to it. U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon then enjoined the city from "taking any steps to inflict any punishment, retaliation, discrimination or sanction of any kind."
Monday's settlement makes that injunction permanent, protecting city-government funding that amounts to a $7 million annual subsidy.
The settlement also forces the city to suspend its effort to evict the museum from the city-owned building it leases. And, according to the court order, Giuliani has agreed to include an additional $5.8 million in the city's executive budget for physical improvements to the museum's building.
"Today's result is overdue," Abrams said at an afternoon news conference. "Mayor Giuliani should have never started this destructive fight with the First Amendment and should surely have agreed to stop it long ago."
The attorney representing the mayor and the city said he was "gratified" by the settlement.
"It's time to end the hostilities on both sides, in terms of court proceedings," said Michael Hess, Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, at a news conference.
But Hess said he does not view the settlement as a victory for anyone. And he said, the mayor was able to raise legitimate concerns about the exhibit.
"Part of that exhibit was obviously religion-bashing," Hess said. "And the mayor took exception to that and rightly so.
"The issue of whether taxpayer money needs, and should, be used for a religion-bashing kind of exhibit like that is a legitimate legal issue to be litigated. Maybe, some day, it will come up to the Supreme Court and we'll see what they might say on an issue like that."
Last fall, the city, under the direction of Giuliani, had withheld monthly payments to the museum because of Giuliani's objections to the show's painting, "The Holy Virgin Mary" by British artist Chris Ofili. He used elephant dung and images of female genitalia in that work.
Giuliani maintained the painting desecrated religious beliefs of a substantial portion of the community.
Another art exhibit riles New York mayor
Brooklyn Museum of Art
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