Murky details: Rendell, The Barnes, Lincoln University, and others.
Albert Barnes’s Indenture left the stewardship of the Barnes Foundation to Lincoln University following the death of the original trustees. Lincoln had the right to nominate four out of the five members of the Board of Trustees.
When the petition was filed by the Barnes asking Montgomery County Orphan’s Court for permission to remove the art collection, it also asked for permission to expand the size of the Board from five to fifteen. This change would end Lincoln University’s majority on the Board and effective control over the Barnes.
Lincoln filed a petition to block the move and the board expansion, which represented a significant obstacle to the plan to expand the Board and move the collection.
On September 12, 2003, an Agreement was signed between Lincoln University, the Barnes Foundation, and Attorney General Mike Fisher which stated that Lincoln University would drop all opposition to the petition. For the text of the Agreement, click here. In the documentary, The Art of the Steal, then-Attorney General D. Michael Fisher (now U.S. Circuit Court Judge) says the following about the situation with the Lincoln University Board of Trustees.
“It was pretty clear to me that they (the Pew, Lenfest, Annenberg Foundations) weren't going to give 50,70, 100 million dollars without getting control of the Barnes board. I had to explain to them (Lincoln's Board of Trustees) that maybe the attorney general's office would have to take some action involving them that might have to change the complexion of the board. Whether I said that directly or I implied it, I think that they finally got the message.”
On September 15, 2003, Lincoln University’s Board of Trustees met again. The Minutes show that Governor Rendell had approved over $80,000,000 in taxpayer funds for Lincoln University. To read the text of the September 15, 2003 Minutes, click here.
On September 20, 2003, Lincoln University’s Board of Trustees met again to vote approval of the Agreement to drop all opposition to the Barnes petition to move and expand the board. This text includes numerous references to assurances by Attorney General Mike Fisher and Governor Ed Rendell to protect the interests of Lincoln University. To read the text of the September 20, 2003 Minutes, click here.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed Capital Spending Bill H.B. 1634 for 2003-04 that contains appropriations for $125,500 for Lincoln University. Details of these appropriations are shown here.
Notes: The arrangements between Lincoln University, the Barnes Foundation, and the Governor were negotiated by Attorney General D. Michael Fisher, who soon thereafter was appointed as a Federal Judge. He was recommended for the job by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), who, as a Republican Senator was a close friend of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg, major funders of the endeavor to dismantle the Barnes Foundation.
A highly detailed account of this story called, “The Deal of the Art,” was written in by Patricia Horn and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in May of 2005. This was before the current owners purchased the Inquirer. The current owners, Brian Tierney and Bruce Toll have pledged at least $10,000,000 to the campaign to dismantle the Barnes Foundation.
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