The Art of the Steal (2010) | Indy Week

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Rated NR · 101 min. · 2010

Documentary


This unabashedly one-sided documentary tells a very interesting and ethically complex story that's so multifaceted in its legal and moral implications that you may wish for additional context. The world's most famous private collection of Post-Impressionist art, amassed by a misanthropic millionaire named Albert Barnes, becomes the object of a power struggle between powerful politicians, opportunistic foundations, representatives of an historically black college and citizens of Lower Merion Township, Penn., where the collection was housed. The film's title gives away its point of view, and indeed, it's depressing to see works by Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne become booty for Philly philistines. Still, what limits this effectiveness of the film's outrage is that it doesn't begin to consider whether a cantankerous millionaire should be allowed to control access to his treasures—which some might consider to be a public resource—in perpetuity after his death.
Director: Don Argott
Producer: Sheena M. Joyce

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