Boy Scouts to sell Rockwell paintings to pay abuse settlements

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New York (AFP)

The Boy Scouts of America has said it will sell its vast collection of Norman Rockwell paintings as part of a multi-million-dollar victims' fund to settle sexual abuse lawsuits.

At least 95,000 former scouts have sued the 111-year-old organization for compensation over alleged sexual abuse committed by scout leaders spanning decades.

As part of a reorganization plan filed in a bankruptcy court in Delaware on Monday, the Boy Scouts listed hundreds of artworks it would sell to help fund the settlements.

Among them were 59 pieces by renowned American painter and illustrator Rockwell dating from 1916 to 1976.

The 379-page filing did not put a value on each piece of artwork and it is unclear how much they are worth.

The works reflect Rockwell's long collaboration with the scout movement and include titles such as "A Scout is Loyal" and "The Campfire Story."

Rockwell was appointed art director of the Boy Scouts' official publication "Boys' Life" when he was still a teenager, according to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he died in 1978.

He worked for the organization throughout much of his life, even as he became a celebrated illustrator for the prestigious Saturday Evening Post magazine.

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, has been rocked by the sexual abuse scandal that came to light in 2012.

The organization has received eight times the number of complaints filed against the Catholic Church, according to lawyers.

The BSA filed for bankruptcy in February in an effort to block settlement claims from hitting the organization directly and instead redirect them to the compensation fund.

The fund aims to raise $300 million, according to US media.

BSA said in a statement that it plans to sell the Rockwell pieces "at a time and in a manner that maximizes value" for the fund.

The Boy Scouts has some two million members and says on its website that it now has policies in place to protect young people.