Lawyers for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton begin laying out their case Tuesday in a high-profile dispute over valuable paintings.
A four-week arbitration hearing begins in Fredericton between the gallery and the Beaverbrook Foundation (U.K.) in one of two parallel disputes involving paintings at the gallery.
There are two Beaverbrook foundations — one British, oneCanadian. Both claim ownership of different groups of paintings at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
The gallery is fighting back, saying Lord Beaverbrook, the Canadian newspaper magnate whose name was William Maxwell Aitken, donated his art to be enjoyed by the people of New Brunswick.
The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation is pursuing its claim in a lawsuit before the courts.
The Beaverbrook Foundation in the U.K. and the gallery have agreed to go to arbitration instead.
The two foundations have been fighting the gallery since 2004, claiming ownership of 175 of the paintings in its collection.
Among the paintings at issue in the arbitration are J.M.W. Turner's Fountain of Indolence, valued at $25 million, and Lucian Freud's Hotel Bedroom, valued at $5 million.
Retired Supreme Court justice Peter Cory will begin hearing arguments Tuesday morning at a conference centre at the University of New Brunswick.
"Unlike most arbitrations, or almost any arbitration that I've ever known about, this arbitration is public, so there's going to be a certain amount of playing to the public, I assume, which is unfortunate, but there it is," saidVincent Prager of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, which is not involved in the arbitration but is pursuing a lawsuit.
Each side will spend the better part of a week delivering opening statements, before filing documents and calling witnesses.
It's not known whether Lord Beaverbrook's two grandsons, cousins Max and Tim Aitken, will testify.
In 2005, they threatened to create a new gallery in New Brunswick to house the paintings from Lord Beaverbrook's collection.
Gallery director Bernard Riordon wasn't available to comment.