Well, I guess one shouldn’t be surprised that politics, greed and personal revenge are parts of a story about contemporary art. The Art of the Steal is a 2006 documentary that chronicles the history of the Barnes Foundation.
Dr. Barnes was a physician, and a chemist, who made a lot of money developing a successful drug. In his thirties (1910), he began to learn about, and collect, art. Over time, he amassed one of the most important collections of post-Impressionist and early modern art in North America.
Dr. Barnes, and his wife, Laura Leggett, built a home in rural Pennsylvania. Here they established the Barnes Foundation, which included an art school based on their private art collection, and an Arboretum School, headed by Mrs. Barnes. The major goal of their foundation was education. Public access to the private, and significant, art collection was severely limited, and subject to Dr. Barnes’ whims.
The documentary is well worth watching (and a good break from Netflix:) It may even make you update your will, or, perhaps, like me, throw your hands up in despair.