18 Days: It’s Bloody Time to Hear

The Bloody IncisionFor more than a week now, we’ve been hearing the same old line from those collecting our money: “We’re more than a third of the way there.”

That’s all we get to know after 27 days since the announcement of the sale? Who is giving? Silence on that one. How many of us have chipped in? No word. Is interest rising, steady or flagging? Zip in the detail department.

So, officially, we know there’s more than $22,666,666 in the pot. But that leaves us with a $45 million hole — and a lot of unconfirmed buzz.

And some of that buzz is quite interesting. We hear that Bill Gates has been involved in the negotiations offering a loan, not a donation. We hear that Senator Specter and Gov. Rendell are going to (metaphorically) lock arms in front of the painting. We hear that some of those now leading the effort to retain The Gross Clinic knew it was being sold before Jefferson’s announcement — and chose to do nothing. And we hear something that we have not heard until today — that the painting is not leaving town.

We’ve said it before: this is a cause being taken up by thousands of regular folk and the ultimate decision is in the hands of a few billionaires. So be it. We couldn’t do it without them. But they wouldn’t care to do it without us.

What do we get in return? Information that was old a week ago. It’s bloody time we hear more. The facts – not the buzz.

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8 Comments on “18 Days: It’s Bloody Time to Hear”

  1. John Hoenstine Says:

    I have lost all respect for Jefferson Medical School. If Jeff has any connection and respect for Philadelphia they should give the painting to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and hold a bake sale to raise the money – (just a little sarcastic – sorry). This is exactly like sports teams saying build us a new stadium or we will move – all the while making millioms of dollars – sounds like balckmail to me. In the art world a lot of museums are struggeling with ownership issues – do we keep art taken from other countries or return them. The same applies does a piece of art created and living in a city for over a century – does not it belong to the city? I know Jeff had it for 130 years but is their any record of owership? I lived in Philadelphia for a number of years and now live in Doylestown and I will never willingly use Jefferson Hospital. We have all sunk to the lowest level and it does not make me proud.

  2. James W. Blatchford, M.D. Says:

    Well, I certainly have lost some respect for Jefferson, regardless of the outcome. As a native of Philadelphia, I have long been aware of how important this painting is to the city, Jefferson, and the city’s medical history. How disappointing to hear the naive Jefferson medical student opine that the money is more important! As a medical student at Duke, this painting was well known to me, and was discussed during my rotation in surgery. One of the best lectures that I ever heard was on the Gross Clinic, given while I was a general surgery resident at Yale. I also had the oportunity to see the Gross Clinic exhibited in New York while I was a resident at Yale: it would be very difficult to describe the tremendous impact of seeing the actual painting, as opposed to a reproduction. Never the less, a copy hangs in my office to this day. The possibility of this painting becoming a trophy to greed in some vanity museum in Arkansas sickens me. As a physician who has studied, trained, and practiced all over the country, I can assure Jefferson that their fame ontside of Philadelphia rest principally on their connection with this painting, and somewhat more marginally with John Gibbon, and his development of the Heart-lung machine. Jefferson is about to divorce themselves from this rich tradition and history. Long after the new buildings they which to finance are obsolete, this painting will still be gone, and Jefferson’s great history faded into obscurity.


  3. WHYY Blog readers- Read Sister Mary Scullion’e piece from Inquirer on Thurs 7 Dec.(Care vs Art) Here is my response-

    Sister Scullion;

    Thank you and God bless you for your remarkable leadership on behalf of Philadelphia’s disenfranchised homeless and mentally ill.

    However your commentary in Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer on care vs.art misses the mark.

    You give Jefferson far to much credit for “innovative health care programs for the most vulnerable Philadelphians”

    Where is Jefferson’s School of Public Health? Where is Jefferson’s emphasis on disease prevention? Where is Jefferson’s political advocacy for some level health care for all Americans? (including all Philadelphians)

    Sister Scullion- The head of the most prestigious medical research institute in the world- Dr Elias Zerhouni from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared this past summer that “a treatment based health care system is not economically sustainable.” As far as I know Jefferson has not embraced that statement in its own planning?

    Your leadership is one of great compassion. You are absolutely correct about the need to care for Philadelphia’s disenfranchised despite our high cost, high profit disease treatment business oriented healthcare model. The Eakins painting dollars that Jefferson will accrue, however, will not be utilzed to reflect your own morality nor advance the morality your programs embody. Conversely the dollars will be used to advance the march expensive high tech medicine for profit with a failed end game for all.

    My very best wishes to you and your colleagues as we approach the holiday season

    Sincerely,

    Richard. A. Lippin MD
    Southampton, Pa

  4. Doris Fanelli Says:

    Whatever the outcome of this sale, we need a way to acknowledge features of the cultural landscape that fall outside the normal bounds of public protection. In a perverse way, museums perform a disservice by implying that only objects inside them are worth preserving and everything else is fair game. There are stringent laws regarding the sale of cultural patrimony outside the bounds of a country, laws that provide for the repatriation of significant objects but far fewer options exist for the sale and transport of art within a country’s boundaries. One exception are statutes protecting Native American materials.
    It’s difficult to regard this painting as privately owned because while it is, Jefferson has displayed it in a gallery context for the past twenty five years.
    The Jefferson Archives website has put up a “famous alumni” exhibit and Dr. Gross is featured. He was a founding member of the American Medical Association. I wonder what that organization would say about this sale. On another blog, a writer stated that Jefferson would have a tax liability for this sale because it is outside of their non-taxable operations. I don’t know whether the writer had authoritative information on that, but he stated the bill would be $15 million.
    I agree with the theme of today’s essay as well as one of the earlier responses, there should be more visible marshalling of resources to encourage donors. As a member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art I received a special mailing requesting a contribution to the ransom fund. The Inquirer and WHYY have done as much as possible to maintain public visibility. But there needs to be more ideas and more action. Everyone who reads and posts to this blog feels the same way. It’s very theraputic, but we need to take more action.
    All I want for Christmas is $45 million.


  5. We will learn something very soon from the players. I believe it will be good news. I am a good forecaster.

    Dr. Rick Lippin
    Southampton, Pa

  6. Len Klekner Says:

    I am intensely disappointed in this latest blog entry. Isn’t it the job of our news media (WHYY included) to investigate the issues involved in the sale and the efforts to save the work for Philadelphia, and provide the public with the facts? Hold the lament, and provide us with the investigative journalism and the facts that the public so desperately needs to meet this crisis.

  7. Ted Says:

    The 19th century lasted from 1801 through 1900 in the Gregorian calendar. Historians sometimes define a Nineteenth Century historical era stretching from 1815 (The Congress of Vienna) to 1914

  8. Miguel Rios Says:

    I am rather amazed at Len Klekner’s sense of implicit responsibility regading the public (blogo)sphere. Doesnt the notion of the particular being of Being suppose that the hermenuetic dynamic will accord Itself upon its respective particulars at the moment of its Own disclosure? Email me man. mrios3@aol.com.


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