|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.
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.