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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Powerful Philadelphia Museum Trustee....

... Gets Scrutiny
from New York's
AG Office 
  Harvey S. Shipley Miller, right

By Richard Carreno Bio
Junto Staff Reporter
A powerful, suave Philadelphia Museum of Art trustee, whose stewardship of a prominent New York- and Philadelphia-based arts foundation is now reportedly under 'review' by the New York state attorney general for a recalcitrant dispersal of funds, has had a long and beneficial relationship with Philadelphia Museum, including a donation of between $50,000 and $99,000 in 2009, the year that has been reputedly been called into question by New York authorities.

The long-time trustee, Harvey S. Shipley Miller of New York, has also contributed a personal gift of an unspecified dollar amount in 2009, according to the PMA's financial accounting for that year.

Despite these apparent local disbursements, The New York Times reported today that office New York state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo is reviewing the over-all grant-making activities of the Judith Rothschild Foundation, whose granter, the late artist Judith Rothschild, also had strong ties to the Philadelphia Museum as a former executive committee person. The PMA also owns some of her work.

Miller, 62, a lawyer and a renowned print collector and curator, is the Rothschild Foundation's sole trustee. At the time of Rothschild's death in 1993, at 71, her newly created foundation was valued at $34 million and included works by Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian.

The Times stressed that no wrong-doing has been intimated in the attorney general's review or by other parties.

Miller has been a PMA trustee since 1985, and has been an ongoing member of the museum's collections committee and its prints, drawings, and photographs committee, an area of expertise in which Miller is known to specialize. He has equally strong ties with the nation's most influential arts community in New York, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

Despite the PMA's published statements regarding the foundation's and Miller's personal donations, Miller himself seemingly acknowledged to The Times that the foundation delayed 2009 payments, though these promised donations have now been disbursed. In an interview with The Times, Miller attributed the delay to the consequence of an accident, in which in suffered a broken neck.

Attempts to reach Miller at his New York residence, the foundation's New York office, and at its Philadelphia office were unsuccessful. The residence number is unlisted; the New York number, disconnected; and the Philadelphia number, switched to voice mail.

Miller's association with the Philadelphia Museum has involved, over the years, an interlocking relationship with PMA personnel and the Rothschild Foundation. In 1999, Ann Temkin, the PMA's former curator of modern and contemporary art, served on the foundation's grants review committee, according to foundation's published records. For two years running, in 1995 and in 1996, the Philadelphia Museum's late director, Anne d'Harnoncourt, also served on the committee.

D'Harnoncourt was also a principal speaker at Rothschild's 1993 memorial service.

Gail Harrity, the PMA's president and chief operating officer, told The Times that Miller 'is smart, articulate, and very charming.'