Jack’s Movie Pick of the Week
The documentary The Art of the Steal is the story of the struggle to control the late Albert C. Barnes’ priceless collection of post-impressionist art.
Albert Barnes was born into a poor Philadelphia family on January 2nd, 1872. He worked his way out of the slums by inventing Argyrol, a drug used to protect babies against venereal diseases. The drug was mass marketed and Barnes made millions.
Around this time, a new type of art was starting to become popular. This art was called post impressionism, or early modern art. Popular artists in this field were Henri Rousseau, Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne to name a few.
Barnes noticed that this would eventually become famous and stocked up on as much of it as possible.
He started the Barnes Foundation as a place to educate people about the wonders of art. The building was designed to teach, not to show. He started several very successful art classes based out of the art lousy building. Just how much art was there? It is appraised at over $25 billion dollars worth. And that isn’t even counting the priceless and un-appraiseable art such as Van Gogh’s “Postman”.
When Barnes died in a car accident in 1951, he made several things very clear in his will. First of all, the art was to never be removed from the walls of the Barnes Foundation. Secondly, the art must be used to educate. And most importantly, he said that the art may never be sold. He also did not want the Foundation to become a museum.
After a series of rather bad managers, the Barnes Foundation was in dire need of money. The art was eventually sold to many of Barnes’ old nemeses. It was sold to museums and the art was squandered to many different museums.
As of now, the city of Philadelphia has ignored Barnes’ dream to create a peaceful location to learn about Pre-modern art. The Foundation is set to move to the center of Philadelphia to become a museum. This is being done to boost the tourism of the city.
WATCH THIS MOVIE!! It is a great documentary that shows the heist of a multi-billion dollar collection of art. The more people who watch this movie the better.