Barnes counsel Brett Miller, 47, is dead

Brett Miller, general counsel for the Barnes Foundation who defended the foundation's move from suburban Merion to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in recent court hearings, was found dead at his Old City home Saturday.

He was 47.

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Board member Brett Miller. (Photo courtesy of the Barnes Foundation)

A spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's office attributed the cause of death to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"The board of trustees and the staff of the Barnes Foundation are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague and friend Brett Miller," Derek Gillman, the director of the foundation, said in a statement to the Art Newspaper, which reported Miller's death on Monday. "Brett was a hugely valued member of our executive team, and for three years has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the foundation. He will be greatly missed. We offer heart-felt condolences to his family."

Miller, an expert in law related to the arts and intellectual property, joined the Barnes in November 2009, just in time to successfully handle the most recent legal challenge to the foundation's plans to move its priceless art collection to Philadelphia.

The Friends of the Barnes, a group opposed to the move, petitioned Montgomery County Orphans' Court in 2011 in an effort to re-open hearings on the case. Legal issues involving nonprofit trusts like the Barnes are handled by the Orphans' Court.

The court ruled that the friends had no legal basis to be heard by the court.

Prior to joining the Barnes, Miller was a partner in the Washington office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and worked as a law clerk in the general counsel's office at the Museum of Modern Art.

Miller had also been associate curator of collections at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He is survived by his wife, Amy. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Maryland.

 

Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594, ssalisbury@phillynews.com, or @SPSalisbury on Twitter