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Scaife donates art to Brandywine, Westmoreland art museums

| Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:46 p.m.
Tribune - Review
Westmoreland Museum of American Art Director and CEO Judith Hansen O'Toole and Richard M. Scaife, owner and publisher of the Tribune-Review Publishing Company, share a quiet discussion at the Westmoreland County museum on December 9, 2005. Scaife is the 25th recipient of the Westmoreland Society Gold Medal, a distinction bestowed upon an individual or organization who has made a significant impact on the arts either nationally or regionally.

The wealth, land and art collections of Richard Mellon Scaife, the late owner of the Tribune-Review, will be distributed among two foundations, a trust, an art museum and a conservancy, according to his will.

The will does not specify any individuals as benefactors, and lists only one sum, $15 million, which will go to the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art for maintenance and management of a conservancy Scaife built on the grounds of his childhood home.

Scaife, an heir to the Scaife and Mellon fortunes, died on July 4, a day after his 82nd birthday.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette filed a petition in Westmoreland County on July 7, seeking to make the will public. Attorney H. Yale Gutnick, who represents the estate, told Orphans' Court Judge Christopher A. Feliciani on Friday that Scaife's executors never intended to seal the will, which was filed with the Orphans' Court of Westmoreland County.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg and Brandywine Conservancy near Philadelphia will split Scaife's art collection, according to the will. The will allows the organizations to decide how to divide the collection and sets up a rotating selection system to resolve disagreements.

Gutnick described the art collection as “expansive.”

“I'm only sad that I can't thank him in person, but I'm sure he knew what this would mean to the museum, and to me, personally,” said Judith O'Toole, director and CEO of the Westmoreland museum, when told of the gift.

O'Toole said Scaife befriended her shortly after she arrived at the museum 20 years ago and “was always supportive of everything I and my team did.”

The Westmoreland museum will receive at least eight paintings by American artist John Kane, whose works, including “Along the Lincoln Highway” and “Boulevard of the Allies,” depict Pittsburgh during the industrial boom of the early 1900s.

“That's significant. That's really important,” said O'Toole, who expressed surprise that the collection would go to her museum and Brandywine, and that all the Kane paintings would go to Westmoreland. “I had no idea what was going to happen with the art collection. I'm kind of overwhelmed right now.”

Scaife grew up in Shadyside and at Penguin Court in Ligonier, an estate named for the 10 penguins that once roamed the grounds. In the 1960s, he razed the 50-room home that stood on the site and turned the land into a conservancy, where he grew flowers year-round in a greenhouse with the estate's horticulturalist, Kevin Guerrier.

“That he has chosen to leave the conservancy a property containing acres of mature forest reflects his belief in the importance of our mission and our continuing work in land conservation,” Brandywine Executive Director Virginia Logan said.

Scaife was a trustee on Brandywine's board, Logan said.

“Mr. Scaife was a personal friend of mine for over 50 years, and I am saddened by the loss of this great man,” said George Weymouth, chairman of Brandywine's board of trustees. “I am humbled and honored that he has shown his trust in the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art with this generous bequest.”

The Sarah Scaife Foundation and Allegheny Foundation will divide the assets Scaife inherited from his parents, according to the will. The value of the assets was not available.

The Sarah Scaife Foundation, which gives to organizations that study public policy issues, donated $13.5 million in 2012, according to the foundation's most recent annual report available. The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and Cambridge, Mass.-based Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis received the most money, at $600,000 and $760,000, respectively.

The Allegheny Foundation, whose giving supports historic preservation, civic development and education in Western Pennsylvania, donated $2.6 million in 2012, according to its most recent annual report. The largest gifts — $210,000 and $200,000 — went to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, respectively.

The rest of Scaife's estate, the value of which was not available, will go to The Richard M. Scaife 2008 Revocable Trust. Gutnik and James Walton, Scaife's cousin, are trustees, according to the will.

Mike Wereschagin is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7900 or