Beaverbook gallery fight goes on

CanWest News Service
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FREDERICTON, N.B. - A British foundation has filed an appeal of an arbitrator's decision that gave New Brunswick's Beaverbrook Art Gallery control of $100 million of disputed art.
In its appeal, the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation says the arbitrator, retired Supreme Court justice Peter Cory, made numerous errors in law and showed bias toward the gallery, which was opened by the Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook in 1959.
"By repeatedly vilifying Lord Beaverbrook, praising the gallery and ignoring the foundation's evidence and submissions, the arbitrator raised a reasonable apprehension of bias," saidthe appeal, which was filed last week.
Cory "made terribly disparaging and gratuitous comments about Lord Beaverbrook. . . He systematically ignored compelling evidence and governing law presented by the foundation, and instead relied on a patently inadequate combination of misconstrued evidence, misinterpreted law and outright speculation to reach the desired result," the appeal went on.
In his decision last spring, Cory awarded ownership of 85 of the 133 disputed artworks to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Last October, he awarded $4.8 million in costs to the gallery.
The appeal also seeks to overturn the award on costs, noting it is four times larger than the largest previous award in New Brunswick and more than twice the largest reported award in Canada.
"The many flaws made by the arbitrator in his award pertain to every significant issue he decided, and are almost too numerous to mention," the appeal said. "The arbitrator misstated the relevant law; made numerous patently unreasonable findings of fact; made findings that are internally contradictory and cannot be reconciled; and ignored virtually the whole of the foundation's case. Neither the law nor the evidence can explain the award. The arbitrator's conduct during the hearing suggests that the explanation lies, instead, in the arbitrator's view of the parties themselves."
Beaverbook, born William Maxwell Aitken, was a business tycoon who went on to become a British baron and a member of Britain's war cabinet in both world wars. He established both the gallery and the foundation.
The foundation had argued that the artworks were simply lent to the gallery contrary to the gallery's claim that Beaverbrook gave them to the people of New Brunswick as a gift.
In his decision, Cory rejected the foundation's arguments.
The appeal of his decision will be heard in New Brunswick in the fall.

Organizations: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, British foundation, Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation Supreme Court

Geographic location: New Brunswick, FREDERICTON, Canada Britain

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