IMDb > The Art of the Steal (2009)
The Art of the Steal
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The Art of the Steal (2009) More at IMDbPro »

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The Art of the Steal -- A documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.


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The true story of a multi-billion dollar art heist and how they got away with it.
Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Fascinating, but Unbalanced See more (29 total) »


Julian Bond ... Himself - Chairman of the Board, NAACP
David D'Arcy ... Himself - Correspondent, The Art Newspaper
Richard Feigen ... Himself - World-Renowned Art Dealer (as Richard L. Feigen)
Richard H. Glanton ... Himself - Former President, Barnes Foundation
Christopher Knight ... Himself, Los Angeles Times
Ross L. Mitchell ... Himself - Former Director of Education, Barnes Foundation
Irv Nahan ... Himself - Former Teacher, Barnes Foundation
Harry Sefarbi ... Himself - Artist & Former Teacher, Barnes Foundation
John F. Street ... Himself - Mayor of Philadelphia (as John Street)
Nick Tinari ... Himself - Attorney & Former Barnes Foundation Student
Robert Zaller ... Himself - Professor of History & Politics, Drexel University (as Dr. Robert Zaller)

Directed by
Don Argott 
Produced by
Lenny Feinberg .... executive producer
Gary E. Irwin .... line producer
Sheena M. Joyce .... producer
Original Music by
West Dylan Thordson 
Cinematography by
Don Argott 
Film Editing by
Demian Fenton 
Sound Department
Gary E. Irwin .... sound
Bob Schachner .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Ben Hickernell .... additional camera operator
Editorial Department
Judah-Lev Dickstein .... associate editor
Rob Giglio .... colorist
John-Michael Trojan .... post-production coordinator
Music Department
Susan Jacobs .... music supervisor
Suzana Peric .... music editor
Albert Thrower .... music clearance
Jonathan Zalben .... music clearance
Other crew
Susan Norget .... publicist
Justin Wineburgh .... production counsel
Matt Wolford .... post production coordinator

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • DIVE  post-production (color grading)
  • DIVE  sound post-production (sound mix)

Additional Details

Canada:101 min (Toronto International Film Festival) | USA:101 min

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
Fascinating, but Unbalanced, 8 January 2012
Author: mr_deadly from United States

This well-made documentary is informative and fascinating, but I don't think it fairly presents the arguments for those who disagree with its thesis, which is that Barnes' will should be meticulously respected as it pertains to his amazing art collection.

Those who feel otherwise are portrays as gangsters, thieves, Philistines: power-hungry jerks with selfish motives. While there is an undoubtedly an element of truth to those accusations, it is not the entire story. I feel I must play a little devil's advocate for a more charitable spin on 'the other side.'

It appears to me that the collection's arrangement and display in the original Barnes building is hopelessly outdated: crammed together in the style of a century ago, and arranged according to the whim of one man who is long dead. The modern museum gives art much more space to breathe, and scholars and curators can and do illuminate art by arranging it, and juxtaposing it, in new and different ways.

Why should these works be arranged, forever, in only one pattern, and in only one building? Blockbuster exhibitions are not merely money-makers for museums, but are opportunities to see art in a different context, and for scholars and curators to advance the study of art by combining pieces in new and different ways.

Why, logically, should cultural treasures be considered the property of one man legacy for all of eternity? I can see the logic of requesting an owner's wishes for a long period of time--say, for 50 years. But for centuries? Owners of art deserve respect, but the notion that ownership can extend out into an infinite future is crazy. Just as copyrighted works eventually enter the public domain, so should artworks become available for the benefit and enjoyment of the larger public.

Barnes' name should be, and will be, associated with this art for a very long time. But his obsessions and whims and taste should not dictate the fate of his collection for all time. Allowing the work to travel, and to be arranged differently, and to even move into a new building, is reasonable (over centuries, a dozen different curators and scholars might bring their era's thinking and aesthetic to the collection).

I concede that this might be painful for Lower Merion, and to those who agree with Barnes' will. But Barnes has been dead for decades. Ownership and control of objects of major cultural importance should, eventually, pass from the control of an owner who has long been dead.

And Matisse's line, about how the Barnes was the only sane place in America to view art, should be taken with a grain of salt: if he saw the best art museums in America today, he may very well have changed his mind. A world-class museum today is far, far superior to any art museum of a century ago. Each generation produces new scholarship, and artworks of genuine cultural importance should be available to the finest scholars and curators of each generation. To do otherwise is to overvalue the taste and importance of a single individual who died decades ago, and to undervalue the art's importance to the wider world.

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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Art of the Steal (2009)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
The fact is this...this is Mr. Barnes art tbat82
Movie does not answer obvious question SurrenderToto
Music Gia258
Dr. Barnes was a d-bag. the_mingk
What this movie is really about KolaDude
if the art in this place is worth 20+ billion dollars defcaliber585
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