The University of Texas has informed the Austin American-Statesman and the Associated Press that it is refusing to release the contract and purchase price for the archive of Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Both organizations asked for the information after the Ransom Center at the university said it acquired the archive in late November.
The university is asking Attorney General Greg Abbott for permission to keep those details secret.
In its letter to Abbott, the university said that “the responsive documents have applicable exceptions to disclosure. Accordingly, we reserve all the listed exceptions in the Public Information Act and those captured by ‘other law’ in Section 552.101 of the Texas Government Code.”
The university said in its letter to Abbott that it “will seek to withhold responsive documents pending review by your office.”
In the past, the university has complied with the Public Information Act when asked to disclose the purchase price of various archives at the Ransom Center. The refusal in the case of the Garcia Marquez archive is unusual. But the university maintains that the disclosure of the sale price might drive up costs for future acquisitions. So it’s reasonable to think that the purchase price might have been relatively high, perhaps more than $1 million.
The Garcia Marquez archive was one of the most notable Latin American literary treasure troves to come up for acquisition in recent decades. Garcia Marquez, a Colombian who lived in Mexico and is perhaps best known for his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” was an outspoken opponent of U.S. international policy, and some Latin scholars have bemoaned in recent years the mass migration of Latin American cultural documents to the United States.
A ruling on the matter from the attorney general’s office is expected in about 45 business days