By Steve Tawa
LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) – A family with ties to a former Rector at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion wants to stop the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from “peddling” his portrait for profit.
One of the five portraits taken off Seminary walls and sent to Christie’s auctions to be put on the block to be sold is that of Monsignor Patrick Garvey, painted by the famous Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins in 1902.
Garvey led St. Charles from 1898 until his death in 1908. The family retained the portrait, until it permitted St. Charles to display it in 1959.
Now, the Garvey family wants to stop what it calls “the commercial trading of Monsignor Garvey’s likeness.”
Attorney Robert Goldman, who represents the family, says the Archdiocese “at the highest levels” refused its request to discuss their desire that the painting remain at St. Charles.
“They were immediately rebuffed. They were invited to go and bid on the piece at Christie’s.”
Goldman says the family is not motivated by financial gain, and if the Archdiocese abandons its stewardship, the Garvey family would find another religious institution to shepherd the artwork through time and history.