The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, N.B., is fighting to hang on to paintings that the descendants of Lord Beaverbrook – the gallery's namesake and original patron– say belong to his estate. (CBC)


The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is appealing a court decision in an attempt to interview one of Lord Beaverbrook’s grandsons in its ongoing legal battle with the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation.

It's all part of a legal dispute, now in its ninth year, over paintings at the gallery in Fredericton. The foundation says 78 pieces, worth millions of dollars, are on loan to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery while the gallery maintains Lord Beaverbrook, also known as William Maxwell Aitken, gave the works as gifts in the 1950s.

Last month Justice Paulette Garnett ruled that Timothy Aitken does not have to go through a discovery hearing because he quit his position as president of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation earlier this year.

Garnett ruled the gallery should examine someone else from the foundation, but the gallery said Aitken’s resignation could be a stalling tactic so it wants Garnett's decision overturned.

Court documents show Aitken wanted to settle the dispute, but the foundation board vetoed the decision so he quit.

The gallery has tried to examine Aitken for the last eight years, but he was never available.

"Discovery has nothing to do with anything. The case is simply one between one set of lawyers' point of view, and another set of lawyers' point of view," said Aitken in Fredericton last fall.

Among the 78 works in dispute are paintings by Salvador Dali and Walter Sickert.

A separate dispute with the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation over a larger group of paintings was settled in 2010.