The 10-year, often bitter and highly expensive dispute between the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation has come to a sudden and, it appears, happy conclusion, with a deal announced on Friday evening in Fredericton.
The arrangement was completed over coffee and muffins earlier in the day after what gallery chair Allison McCain called “a few months of negotiation.” Each side will relinquish claims of ownership to sizable portions of the 78 artworks that were in dispute.
The foundation now has title to 43 works, the gallery 35. However, the foundation has agreed to a five-year loan of its share to the gallery, with the possibility of renewal. And, in perhaps the deal’s most surprising twist, Max Aitken, 36 – who has been chair of the foundation since June, 2012, and is the great-grandson of the art gallery’s Canadian-born founder, Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964) – has agreed to join the board of the gallery his grandfather opened in 1959. Restoring the gallery’s funding from the foundation “wasn’t discussed” as part of the settlement, Mr. McCain said.
The relatively amicable resolution, although long in coming, is in sharp contrast to the resolution of an earlier dispute between the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation, headed by Mr. Aitken’s father, the 3rd Baron Beaverbrook, and the Beaverbrook gallery. That dispute concerned whether the gallery had title to 133 works valued at more than $100-million or they were loans “recallable on demand” to the foundation as heir and manager of the first Lord Beaverbrook’s estate. An arbitration decision in March, 2007, awarded the gallery 85 works. However, the foundation appealed and the dispute continued for nearly three years before an out-of-court settlement largely upheld the arbitration.