Published: December 3, 2002
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. (AP) — The cash-strapped Barnes Foundation can easily solve its money woes by selling one painting from its world-renowned collection, its former president said.
Selling a painting would provide enough money to operate the Barnes gallery and school “for the next 50 years,” Richard H. Glanton, president of the foundation from 1990 to 1998, told the Philadelphia Daily News.
“The Barnes has 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 60 Matisses, 54 Picassos and hundreds of other extremely valuable paintings,” Glanton said. “The likes of these paintings have never been on the market and a number of them are worth more than $100 million.”
Glanton would not say which of the paintings he thinks should be sold, but he did point to one, “Joie de Vivre” by Henri Matisse, as “the most important painting in the last 100 years.”
The will of the late Dr Albert Barnes prohibits the sale of any of the artwork bequeathed to his suburban Philadelphia foundation.
Glanton said the courts allowed deviation from the will when it determined doing so was in the best interests of the foundation.
In the mid-1990s, Montgomery County Court approved Glanton’s request to send part of the collection on a world tour in violation of the will, which prohibits removing any of the paintings from the Merion gallery.
That tour, said Glanton, raised almost $20 million and was used to renovate the gallery.
The current trustees, pleading financial need, have asked a judge to approve their plan to relocate the collection to a new home on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The trustees also want to increase the size of the board from five to 15.
Increasing the board’s size would reduce the influence of Lincoln University over the Barnes. Lincoln, a historically black university, now nominates four of the five board members.
Under the trustees’ proposal, Lincoln would continue nominating only four members, far less than the majority it now enjoys. Lincoln is opposing the trustees in court.
“There’s no need to move the collection and no need to take away the right of Lincoln to nominate 80 percent of the board,” said Glanton, a Lincoln trustee. “Would the sale of just one painting diminish the ability of the foundation to carry out its mission? No.”
The trustees declined to respond to Glanton’s suggestion, referring a questioner to a statement adopted by the Association of Art Museum Directors. That statement says, in part: “At a time when almost every art museum is confronted with serious financial difficulty, just one art museum falling prey to the temptation to sell art for financial reasons will establish a dangerous precedent.”
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