PHILADELPHIA – The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out the last remaining appeal to stop the Barnes Foundation (search) from moving its multibillion-dollar art collection from its suburban home to a new gallery in Philadelphia.
The decision paves the way for plans to bring the renowned collection of Renoirs, Matisses and Picassos to Philadelphia's museum district, where tens of thousands more people could see it every year, foundation spokesman Pete Peterson said.
The late Dr. Albert Barnes (search) spent his fortune on the collection and the gallery in suburban Lower Merion Township that has held the works since the 1920s.
Barnes left strict instructions in his will that the paintings were never to be moved, but a judge in December ruled that the foundation could break that directive.
A Barnes Foundation student, Jay Raymond, appealed the judge's ruling, saying the late benefactor's wishes should be respected and that the move would destroy the paintings' unique setting.
Raymond said Wednesday he and his attorney needed to review the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.
"I'm still hopeful that common sense will prevail here and that this bad idea will go away," he said.
Trustees maintain that the foundation nearly went bankrupt because of Barnes' rules and local zoning regulations that limited the gallery to about 400 visitors a day, three days a week.
The foundation wants to move its collection to a planned $100 million gallery where it could be seen by as many as 200,000 people a year.
Wednesday's ruling came less than a month after the state's highest court agreed to immediately review the case. The foundation said its finances were crumbling and a lengthy appeals process would have endangered its future.
"We are pleased that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has dismissed this appeal in an expedited manner," Bernard C. Watson, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees, said in a statement. "With the legal issues now behind us, (we) can now focus our energy on carrying out Dr. Barnes' vision for the foundation and enhancing our educational mission."