Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You thought I was hard on "The Art of the Steal"?

The Charity Governance Blog's Jack Siegel takes it to the woodshed: "Unfortunately, the film, with all of its arrogance and hypocrisy, falls way short, doing nothing to advance the ball." Some highlights:
  • "The makers of the Art of the Steal assume government officials, the local foundations, and the big hitters had an obligation to the Barnes Foundation and Dr. Barnes’ mission. That’s where the non-sequitor exists. The Pew Charitable Trusts, the City of Philadelphia, and the State of Pennsylvania had funds available to rescue the Barnes Foundation from its financial plight. None of these potential funders were obligated to use their funds to further Dr. Barnes intent. They played hardball, which was their right since it was their money that was being used or raised to rescue the collection."
  • "The law is very clear in how it deals with donor intent. So long as the donor’s vision is viable, the law will respect and protect the donor’s intentions, but the law will step in when the circumstances thwart the donor’s intentions by making it impossible to carry them out. The law looks to the doctrines of cy pres and equitable deviation to address the problem. ... That’s exactly what happened in this case. The court did not have the funds to make the impossible possible. Neither did Lincoln University. Those who did have the funds put some condition on the use of their funds. That’s how the world works."
  • "For us, the film raises interesting dilemmas about art and society, wealth, individual freedom, and control of heritage. Yet, in an effort to create a permanent, biased, and self-righteous record, the makers of the Art of Steal forgo an opportunity to explore these dilemmas and the contradictions they create."