Busybodies, Hoarders and Egomaniacs
Some years ago, I got chatting with one of the guards at the Philadelphia Museum, who told me that the most valuable work of art in the entire collection is Cézanne’s "Bathers."
Cézanne painted three huge canvases of bathers. One is in the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, London. The remaining two are 5.65 miles apart—one at the Philadelphia Museum, the other at the Barnes in the suburban town of Merion Station.
All of this angst and horror of the Barnes situation could have been avoided if the directors, lawyers and Montgomery County Orphan’s Court had figured out a way to allow the foundation to sell one painting. My pick: Cézanne’s "Bathers," which would have raised $100 million and allowed the funky Barnes to remain in situ with plenty of money to comfortably operate in perpetuity. Philadelphia doesn't need two of the world’s three Cézanne "Bathers."