Film Chronicles the Dramatic Struggle for Control of the Barnes Foundation

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Film Chronicles the Dramatic Struggle for Control of the Barnes Foundation
The main gallery in The Barnes Foundation.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The Art of the Steal chronicles the long and dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art valued at more than $25 billion. THE ART OF THE STEAL, an IFC Film, runs 101 minutes, is in English, and is not yet rated by the MPAA.

In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes created The Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion Pennsylvania, five miles outside of Philadelphia with the intention of using his remarkable collection of Post-Impressionist and early modern art as an educational institution. Dr. Barnes built his foundation away from the city and the cultural elite who originally scorned his collection as "horrible, debased art," and set it on the grounds of his own home, an arboretum in the leafy suburbs. Tastes changed, and soon the very people who belittled Barnes wanted access to his collection. When Dr. Barnes died in a car accident in 1951, he left control of his collection to Lincoln University, a small African-American college. His will contained strict instructions, stating the foundation shall always have an educational mission and that the paintings were never to be removed. Such strict limitations made the collection safe from commercial exploitation. But was it really safe?

More than fifty years later, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court to take the art - recently valued at more than $25 billion - and bring it to a new museum in Philadelphia. Standing in their way is a group of former students who are trying to block the move. Will the students succeed, or will a man's Last Will and Testament be broken and one of America's greatest cultural monuments be destroyed?

About the Filmmakers:

Don Argott, Director/Cinematographer
Don Argott is a cinematographer, producer and director. Originally from northern New Jersey, he graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 1994. Upon graduation, Argott opened and co-owned Mini Mace Pro Pictures, where he worked on countless corporate and commercial videos and short films as a DP and director. He also worked as a DP/camera op for FOX Sports, ESPN, NBC, and TLC/Discovery.

In 2002, Argott parted ways with his business partner, and started 9.14 Pictures with producer Sheena M. Joyce. ROCK SCHOOL, the company's first feature-length documentary, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2004. TWO DAYS IN APRIL, 9.14's second feature-length documentary, followed four college football players as they entered the NFL Draft. THE ART OF THE STEAL is their third film.

Lenny Feinberg, Executive Producer
Lenny Feinberg is a real estate investor, mountaineer and wine drinker. A former student of the Barnes Foundation, Dr. Barnes' philosophy has had a significant influence on his life. He initiated, funded, and was intimately involved in the making of THE ART OF THE STEAL, which is his first film. He is presently developing new documentary projects.

Sheena M. Joyce
Sheena M. Joyce graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a BA in English in 1998. Upon graduation, Joyce began her film career as an employee of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, marketing the area to the production industry for almost five years. In 2002, she formed 9.14 Pictures with director Don Argott. ROCK SCHOOL, the company's first feature-length documentary, and Joyce's first as producer, was released in 2005. This was followed by TWO DAYS IN APRIL.

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