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The Art of the Steal (2009)

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STORYLINE


When art collector Albert C. Barnes passed away in 1951, his will specifically stipulated that his extensive collection was not to be moved from its home at The Barnes Foundation in suburban Philadelphia. Despite his request that the location serve primarily as a school of art, art criticism and appreciation, the foundation also functioned as a museum, with a collection estimated to be worth at least $25 billion. The theft, as it were, occurred when a group consisting of Philadelphia aristocrats and politicians arranged for the breaking of Barnes’ will to move the collection (which, with 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 60 Matisses, 44 Picassos, and 14 Modiglianis, is generally considered to be the world’s best collection of post-Impressionist art) into the city of Philadelphia as a major tourist attraction. Filmmaker Dan Argott focused the film on the brutal excavation and elimination of Barnes’ wishes, opting to use graphics to present each argument, rather than turning to talking heads for their opinions. The choice earned Argott a few criticisms, however the film offers painstaking detail that other documentaries of the art world may omit.


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Barnes Foundation @ Wikipedia

Albert C. Barnes @ Wikipedia