The Art of the Steal

This zippy documentary outlining the decades-long struggle of the Philadelphia art establishment to gain control of the $25 billion private collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes is proof that it's possible to loathe the rich under any circumstance or guise, including but not limited to such august charities as the Pew and Annenberg foundations.

From the LA Times

The first thing you need to know about the collection are its staggering numbers: That suburban building houses 181 Renoirs, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, more Cezannes (69) than are in the museums of Paris, and on and on and on. Initially advised by the American artist William Glackens, a friend from high school, Barnes began buying this art when no one else was interested and so earned the loyalty of his artists that Matisse came over in 1933 to paint a 42-foot mural called "La Dance" above the structure's tall French windows. Total value of the collection, to quote "Citizen Kane": "No man can say."

But they'll certainly try. And the question at the end: is it the public's god-given right to see art that one man purchased and intended for an entirely different purpose?

Now playing at the IFC Center & IFC Movies On Demand.