Art of the Steal. 2010.
This new documentary was a deeply layered investigation into one of
the largest art heists of this century; the stealing of the Barnes
collection by Philadelphia and eerily entwined "nonprofits". The
Barnes collection is one of the most comprehensive collections of
impressionist and cubist french paintings in the world, and one of the
most important private art collections housed in the united states.
Barnes' collection was to never be moved or sold, and was to remain
just as it was when Barnes died. This meant it was open to the public
only twice a week, and for the rest of the time it was to be used
educationally for the art school which Barnes founded.
The collection is now, for a myriad of reasons, moving just down the
block from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which Barnes personally
despised. This collection, appraised at roughly 25 billion, was
illegally stolen, yes. The robbery was done by individuals who gained
a great deal from the theft, yes. End outcome? The collection is in a
better environment for the art, and is much more accessible to the
I am not sure how I feel about Barnes' motives surrounding his will;
the fact that an invaluable collection was kept largely hidden from
the public seems unjust indeed. So, in the end I am not sure how this
movie made me feel except conflicted. A curmudgeon kept his art from
the public and politicians stole it for personal gain.
Definitely worth seeing, please let me know what you thought.