GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two Pennsylvania museums have begun dividing more than 500 pieces of art bequeathed to them by the late Pittsburgh Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.
Officials with the Brandywine River Museum of Art near Philadelphia met Wednesday in Greensburg with their colleagues at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
Scaife, the billionaire banking heir who died July 4 at age 82, willed the paintings to the museums. They divided more than 140 of the most sought-after works of art Wednesday by taking turns, and will divvy up the rest in the coming days.
The Westmoreland museum's first pick was an 1891 painting, "Moonrise, Alexandria Bay" by George Inness. Highlights of Brandywine's selections were undated paintings "New Jersey Salt Marsh" by Martin Johnson Heade and "Hudson River View from Dobbs Ferry" by John Kensett.
"We have had a few Hudson River painters, but Mr. Scaife's gift takes that to a completely different level," said Thomas Padon, curator of the museum in Chadds Ford.
"It's kind of a game-changer for Westmoreland," said Sam Berkovitz an independent licensed auctioneer who directs Concept Gallery in Pittsburgh. "It's a very, very big deal."
Scaife's collection consisted mostly of 19th and 20th century paintings by American artists John La Farge, Kensett, Inness and others, and their acquisition is expected to bring national recognition to the museums.
Scaife also gave the Westmoreland museum $5 million and a group of John Kane paintings. Scaife bequeathed his 900-acre Ligonier estate, "Penguin Court," to Brandywine's parent organization and conservancy, along with a $15 million endowment to maintain the property.