As this blog reported in September, the Friends of the Barnes made a last-ditch effort to stop the Barnes Collection from moving to a new museum, which is set to open on May 19, 2012. On Thursday October 6, Judge Stanley Ott ruled, again, that they have no legal standing to challenge the move. Ott has made similar rulings in 2004 and again in 2008.
The Friends’ latest challenge, filed in February 2011, argues that the former attorney general of Pennsylvania, Mike Fisher, did not carry out his responsibility to prevent Barnes’ will from being violated. New evidence is cited to support the petition: comments made in a 2009 documentary, “The Art of the Steal” (reviewed by this blog upon its release). A second petition, filed by Ralph Feudale, was also considered by the court. Ott remarked that Feudale has an interest in the saga and” perhaps, in promoting the sales of his book on the subject.”
Standing was denied for both petitions. “The law of standing in matters involving charities is crystal clear, and forecloses the possibility of the Friends pursuing the instant petition,” Ott said. Feudale’s petition was even found to be in bad faith. Although the Friends’ petition was found to be more credible, Ott found it to be sanctionable as well. The petitioners were ordered to bear some portion of the fees and costs associated with the petition.
Perhaps, then, this was really the last last-ditch effort? According to the LA Times, Bruce Castor is a Montgomery county commissioner who opposes the move: “any last-ditch hopes for stopping the transfer now lie with the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which could hold up millions in state funding that former Gov. Ed Rendell designated for the new museum. Politically, Castor said, that will not happen unless Rendell’s successor, Tom Corbett, urges withholding the money, ‘and I don’t see any evidence that the governor wants to do that.'”