Tag Archives: Barnes Foundation

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

Barnes Foundation “Greenwash” Can’t Clean Up Toxic Waste of the Move

 

“Greenwashing” is all the rage.  The London Olympics were promoted as the “greenest” ever and sponsors Dow Chemical and British Petroleum (BP) stepped up to reap the publicity benefits.  Now the controversial Parkway Barnes is getting a good hosing down of “greenwash.”

 

 

The New York Times’ RandyKennedy reports that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status to the Barnes Foundation for the Parkway building that houses the art
collection of Albert Barnes.  A green roof, a cistern for watering the gardens, flooring in the galleries salvaged from Coney Island, etc. helped to win the USBC over.  How nice!

photo credit Tom Crane
We would love to know how they figured in the environmental impact of bringing stone from Israel’s Negev desert to cover the exterior of the 93,000 square-foot building!  (LEED requirements call for building materials that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered within 500 miles.)  But that is a detail. 

 

The real point is that for all of the “greenwashing” this LEED status offers, the Parkway building’s very existence meant destruction of the internationally-revered, sustainable, accessible cultural site of the Barnes Foundation in Merion just a few away, on the border with the City. 
Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA
The Barnes movers (a.k.a. Philly-stines) are being praised for a building that should never have been erected.  These are not people following the tenets of good stewardship of natural and cultural resources.  These are people motivated by commerce, political, gain, and “status” by exploiting amd debasing the Barnes legacy in a Big City power grab. 
Barnes Board Vice Chair Joseph Neubauer, former PA Gov. Rendell
As Philadelphian Sandy Bressler put it in a comment on the blog “Hidden City Philadelphia 

 

 

“Seeking LEED Platinum Certification for an unnecessary and inferior Barnes “Museum” less than 5 miles from the fully functional, recently renovated and historically significant original mocks the notion of sustainability.This whole endeavor is the essence of waste and destruction.”

 

Nice try, you guys, but the manipulations used to move of the art collection to Philadelphia (documented in the film The Art of theSteal”) have left an indelible toxic stench that even a “LEED Platinum” award cannot wash away. 

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

Former Barnes Foundation President and CEO Kimberly Camp shakes things up!

 

Kimberly Camp, President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation 1998-2005 (Phila. Tribune)

Fascinating and disturbing news came out last week about the Kimberly Camp writing that money – or the total lack thereof — wasn’t actually the reason she and her employers sought court permission to transfer the legendary Barnes art collection from Merion to Philadelphia.  Weirdly — or maybe not —  the local papers of records (Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News) haven’t printed a word about it. That’s scary in itself, but let’s not digress just yet.

About a week ago, the brilliant but beleagured attorney Sam Stretton– whose case for saving the Barnes in Merion was dismissed AND sanctioned for $25,000 — got revved-up all over again.  The cause:  blog posts written by former President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation Kimberly Camp stating that bankruptcy was NOT the reason for the move of the Barnes art collection from Merion to Philadelphia.  Say, WHAT?    

Here’s what Kimberly Camp wrote on her blog:

“Bankruptcy was not the reason we filed the petition to move the Foundation to the city. At the time the petition was filed, the Barnes Foundation had a cash surplus and we had no debt — none. But, saying so made the rescue so much more gallant.”

Some people might read it and think, “Gee, I knew that. Why get excited?”  But Sam Stretton is not “some people” and he doesn’t horse around when he sees something outrageous.  He understood that the Court had been told a completely different story by Ms. Camp and her employers in lengthy hearings in 2003 and 2004 in which the Barnes in Merion was presented as a hopeless financial basket case.  Sam knew what he had to do.  The new information from this top Barnes administrator and key witness was new evidence that should be reviewed by the Court.

Samuel C. Stretton, Esquire

In no time flat, Sam fired off a Petition to Superior Court in Norristown, asking that the appeal he filed be “remanded” – sent back – to Judge Ott in Orphans’ Court for a hearing. (The Friends haven’t posted the Petition to their website yet, hopefully coming soon.)

By the following Monday morning, Joseph N. DiStefano broke the story with “Barnes ex-boss ‘We never said we were ‘bankrupt. Really?” on his PhillyDeals blog. Soon enough, the Associated Press had JoAnn Loviglio’s report up and running and by mid-day it had spread across the country.  Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times’ art critic Christopher Knight described it on the Culture Monster blog. In the midst of all that, reporter Amanda Mahnke posted a highly detailed report for a hyper-local news outlet called Ardmore “Patch.” Soon thereafter, Cheryl Allison — who has clocked more professional hours on the Barnes saga than anyone, anywhere —  posted her story for Main Line Media News. Next day, the NYTimes’ Randy Kennedy wrote “Ex-Barnes Head Says It Wasn’t About Money” in Arts, Briefly.  Arts blogs, non-profit blogs, law blogs, even the cool real-estate blog “Curbed Philly” had a “Barnes Storm” post by Liz Spikol

The Friends have never experienced coverage like this before – ever – and they are amazed, and also gratified.  The implications of this story validate what they have been trying to say for years — to the Court and anyone who would listen. There are other links pasted below.
Now what?  Will Superior Court remand the case to poor Judge Ott?  Will the Court tell Sam that he’s got to go forward with the appeal in Superior Court, at the risk of being sanctioned again, big time?  Will Sam and Barnes Watch withdraw their appeal?  Will Judge Ott take command of the situation and schedule a hearing? 

Whatever happens, Ms. Camp has sure shaken things up and gotten a lot of attention.  This might even boost sales of the book she is threatening to publish under the mouthfull of a title, “Defending the Dead: The totally true story about The Barnes Foundation transformation.”   Remember now, “totally true” means different things to different people — but that’s another story. 

Speaking of another story, let’s get back to that Inquirer business in a separate post. This is quite enough.
Other reports:

 

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

Barnes Foundation’s Anti-Friend Sanctions and a Gold-Plated Law Firm

Ralph G. Wellington, Esquire

The Barnes Foundation’s lawyers at Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis reacted vigorously to the Petition filed last year by Samuel C. Stretton, Esquire on behalf of Friends of the Barnes Foundation, BarnesWatch, and a number of individuals. Their Brief  reminded the Court that no one other than the Pennsylvania Attorney General has legal standing to intervene in the Barnes matter —  especially not the pesky, tenacious Friends who had already been dismissed by Judge Ott in 2008. And especially not a number of the individual petitioners, who have tried multiple times before to seek Justice for the Barnes Trust in Court.

Seems the Schnader defense team’s legal arguments needed some heft to make them appear even more justified, especially when Mr. Stretton’s Petition so clearly spelled out how messed up the Barnes case is. And most of all, they needed something to get these extremely annoying Barnes’inistas to SHUT THE FUCK UP.

What to do? Do what any self-respecting gold-plated law firm does: ask Judge Ott to impose punishing financial sanctions forcing the Friends pay the Barnes Foundation’s legal fees and expenses – and make sure the bill is sizeable enough to provide damage control. In short, kill the messenger of the bad news that the Barnes case was, let’s say, deeply flawed.

When Judge Ott issued his Opinion last October, he dismissed the Friends’ Petition for lack of legal standing and he also upheld the Barnes Foundation’s demand for Sanctions.  He wrote that the Friends did something “santionable” by bringing up the topic of the $107 million taxpayer money for the Barnes project in Philadelphia. Judge Ott offered to hold a hearing on the subject of the sanctions.

Then the Barnes lawyers submitted their bills. These guys do not horse around.  $64,000. In the world of the Barnes Foundation, which has spent tens of millions on lawyers working cases brought by the Barnes, $64,000 is not much, but to the Friends it is. But that’s not the point. As Sam Stretton, Esq. explained in his Objections to the Sanctions, there is no legal basis for the sanctions. And Sam also explained why the amount billed by Schnader is outrageous.

So on February 2, Judge Ott held a hearing about it. Things were going along quite nicely with each side calmly setting out their positions. Then Ralph Wellington, Esquire took the stand to be questioned by another Schnader senior partner about the legal fees. While explaining to the Court why the $64,000 was justified, he stunned the Friends in the Courtroom with some news. The $450 an hour for services was a discounted rate and a huge bargain because, after all, the Barnes Foundation is a “charitable” organization. His usual hourly rate is $710 an hour.

Mr. Wellington didn’t flinch when talking about his pay scale, but you could hear a collective gasp of amazement from the Friends. And yet, it was a  moment of brilliant illumination.

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis and its client the Barnes Foundation are in another world! It’s the world of privilege and power, status and influence. It’s a world for Pews, Annenbergs, Lenfests, and Perelmans; not for people like the Friends.

Whether he meant to or not, Mr. Wellington pegged the Barnes move as an undertaking of, by, and for the 1%.

Here is a link to reporter Cheryl Allison’s story on the Court Hearing for Main Line Media News. KYW’s Suburban Chief Brad Segall also covered the story.The Philadelphia Inquirer didn’t cover  it, though.  The paper’s Culture Reporter explained that because Judge Ott hasn’t issued his Ruling, there was no “news.”  Judge Ott did not say when he will issue his final ruling on the matter.  The Friends plan to appeal.

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

The Gig is Up on the Barnes Foundation Move

Save the Date 6However obvious the slinky, slimy maneuvers of the Barnes Movers aka Philly-stines, it’s not at all easy to bring the matter before the the court.  But the Friends’ lawyer, Samuel C. Stretton, found a way.  In the movie “The Art of the Steal,” Sam saw and heard former Pennsylvania Attorney General bragging about how he strong-armed Lincoln University to drop their legal opposition to the Barnes move and – the gig was up!

Sam filed a petition for the Friends of the Barnes Foundation in Court in February of 2011 things progressed from there. On Monday, August 1, he will argue before Judge Ott for the matter to be re-opened.  Incredible story, but true.  That baby (the Barnes art collection) was supposed to be wrapped up and ready to deliver to a Philadelphia address.  But with Sam on the case, those Philly-stines and their crafty ways are about to be shown for what they are.  We’re not saying, but you can imagine.

If you can make it to Norristown, do it.   It is going to be something, all right.  Go, Sam!

What:    Oral Arguments to support the Petition of the Friends of the Barnes Foundation, BarnesWatch, and others

 

Where:  Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.  The Courthouse entrance on Swede Street is where the Friends will gather.  Handicapped ramps are located on East Airy St.

 

Where:  Courtroom “B” is on the 2nd floor. Up the big staircase if you enter on Swede Street or take the elevator to 2nd floor and continue past the staircase to Courtroom “B.”

 

When:  The Friends are gathering at the steps to the Courthouse on Swede Street starting at 12:00.  The proceedings in Court start at 1:30.

 

REMEMBER THAT YOU MUST GO THROUGH SECURITY UPON ENTERING THE COURTHOUSE, SO BE SURE TO ALLOW YOURSELF TIME FOR THAT.

 

Directions to the Courthouse

 

Here’s a link to a map of downtown Norristown in the vicinity of the Courthouse.