I wondered earlier this week whether the Philadelphia authorities would get a notice letter out to Jefferson University informing them that The Gross Clinic was being considered for designation as a historic object, thereby preventing it from being shipped out of town.
It looks like it had already happened.
Stephan Salisbury reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer today that
"a letter from Jonathan Farnham, the city's acting historic preservation officer, formally notifying Jefferson and the museums of the [commencement of the designation process] was mailed Nov. 20. From that date forward, the letter states, 'you are notified that no one may remove or alter The Gross Clinic, which is the object under consideration, without first seeking a permit from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.'"
A hearing by the Historical Commission's "designation panel" has been scheduled for Dec. 20. That panel will then make a recommendation to the full Commission, which has scheduled a "special session" the next day.
I assume it's a foregone conclusion that the painting will be designated as historic. I'd be curious to know whether the purchase agreement allows the buyers to back out of the deal in these circumstances. Who's going to be the plaintiff in the takings lawsuit against the city?