The Philadelphia Inquirer
Inquirer Culture Writer
October 6, 2011
PHILADELPHIA — A last-minute legal effort to prevent the Barnes Foundation in Merion from moving its spectacular art collection to Philadelphia was rejected by court order Thursday morning.
Judge Stanley Ott of Montgomery County Orphans' Court ruled that the Friends of the Barnes, an organization opposed to moving the renowned collection of Impressionist and early Modernist work from its original home to a new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, had no legal standing to challenge the move.
Ott made a similar ruling in a 2008 suit brought by the organization.
The friends group, who filed another suit earlier this year, argued that "new evidence" contained in a 2009 movie, The Art of the Steal, showed that Pennsylvania authorities connived to facilitate the move.
Ott ruled that there was no new information in the movie.
He stated that the law is "crystal clear" on the issue of who can go to court and challenge rulings regarding charitable trusts, such as the Barnes Foundation. Only affected parties may do so.
"This is well-trod ground," Ott ruled.
In addition to turning down the friends request to reopen litigation - and a similar suit brought by lawyer and author Richard Feudale - Ott directed that the friends and Feudale pay a portion of the court costs sustained by the Barnes Foundation to defend its Philadelphia move in court.
Evelyn Yaari, a leader of the friends, had not had an opportunity to read the decision on Thursday morning. She said, however, that the friends are prepared to appeal if their attorney recommends it.
"If he says appeal, we will certainly do that," she said.
Friends lawyer Samuel Stretton, was in court and unavailable for immediate comment. The Barnes Foundation had no immediate comment.
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