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Description: A painting by artist Jacob Lawrence, apparently missing for the last 60 years, was rediscovered recently on a good hunch from a visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When viewing an exhibit of a series of Lawrence’s paintings, the visitor took note of the empty spots on the wall where the missing paintings from the series would go. Having a hunch that a painting hanging in the home of two friends may well be of the missing pieces, she approached the couple. Now, the painting they purchased for a small sum at a charity auction many years ago has been reunited with the series.

Date:  October 21, 2020



Discussion points:

1) Does your university campus have an art gallery? When did you last visit it?

2) If you were the elderly couple noted in the story, would you have reunited a painting you purchased legally with the collection? Why or why not?

3) In Chapter 6 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, we learn three approaches to placing a cost on items in inventory. If you were an accountant for an art dealer, which inventory cost formula would you be likely to use? Why?

9 Responses to “Found: Missing Painting”

  1. Paige Matchett, Jackson Major, Tara MacKinnon

    1. Mount Allison University does have an art gallery on campus, which is referred to as Owens Art Gallery. This gallery is Canada’s first university art gallery, which contains 3200 works of art created by Canadian and International artists. Although we have all heard a lot of good things about Owens Art Gallery, none of us have actually visited the gallery first-hand. However, there are a variety of events hosted at the art gallery – which we would love to attend in the near future.
    2. If we were in the same situation as the elderly couple noted in the story, we believe that we would have reunited the painting with the corresponding collection. Although the couple legally purchased the piece of art, in our opinion it holds much more value and importance to place the painting with the rest of the collection than to let it hang on an ambiguous wall.
    3. In Chapter 6 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making and in correspondence with the material covered on the second midterm this morning, we learned about the three approaches to placing a cost on items in inventory. These include; specific identification, FIFO, and average cost. If we were accountants for an art dealer, we would use specific identification to determine inventory cost. Specific identification tracks the actual physical flow of goods to determine cost. However, this approach can only be used when; actual costs of each item can be determined, goods are easily distinguishable, and goods are produced and segregated for specific projects. In this situation, specific identification is appropriate as artwork aligns with the requirements. This is, art pieces follow this concept because each piece is; individually priced, unique and distinguishable from other pieces, produced and segregated for specific projects.

  2. Davide Sebastian Colonna, Gabriel Pascal Champagne, Alea Sophie Büchel

    1) Yes our university has an art gallery on the campus, The Owens Art Gallery. While most students don’t usually visit it very often, Davide was in it about 2 weeks ago for a photography project, while the last time Gabriel was inside was when he took his tour of the campus around 3 years ago, and Alea hasn’t been inside the building yet.
    2) We decided that we would lend the painting to the museum if we were in the position of the elderly couple. The couple bought the painting legally, so it belongs to them. However, the painting has been missing for a long time and it is from a famous artist, which is why many people might want to see it. We believe that lending the painting to the museum is a fair choice for everyone. That way art enthusiasts can enjoy the painting and the elderly couple is able to maintain their ownership of it.
    3) As an accountant, I would pick the specific identification method, since each painting is easily distinguishable and has a high value. This method would be the most appropriate for the business because an art gallery wants to know exactly how much each painting is bought for, and would also want to have an extremely specific inventory count. As well, this is logistically feasible since an art gallery will have a lower inventory relative to other companies from other industries.

  3. Nicolas Briere, Jonathan Desrochers, Robbie Loughery, Siyun Chae

    1. Yes, Mount Allison University is home to the Owens Art gallery. The school hosted a number of free to participate events and workshops (pre-Covid) for students, faculty and members of the community to partake in. Currently students and faculty can arrange to view the gallery by appointment and the workshops and events that would have been hosted at the gallery are being held virtually. Our team members had attended workshops last year but no one has visited the gallery recently.

    2. The group consensus is that we wouldn’t necessarily return the painting without compensation given that it was legally purchased and isn’t a stolen item. with that said we speculated that if the couple donated the piece they could receive a tax break for the full value of the work. Beyond this we also speculated that maybe we would have an amendment in our will that upon our death the painting would be donated to the collection.

    3. If we are accountants for an art dealer we would use the specific identification cost formula given the fact that no one piece of art is the same, all carry different values and are easily distinguishable.

  4. Sarah Merriam, Jenna Miller, Kathryn McIntosh

    1) Our university campus does have the Owens Art Gallery which is available for students and other locals to visit. Some classes last year incorporated the use of Owens Art Gallery into classes, which was when we last visited. Most of our group members have attended the Owens Art Gallery where there are several different rooms that each portray their own themes. The Owens Art Gallery also updates the rooms occasionally throughout the year in order to continue to attract new visitors and present new themes.

    2) Our group decided that if we were the elderly couple noted in the story, we would have reunited the legally purchased painting to the collection if the payment was reimbursed. We collectively decided this because the collection was incomplete at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the couple had the opportunity to return it to its rightful place after it has been missing for the last sixty years.

    3) If we were accountants for an art dealer, we would use the specific identification cost formula because then a specific cost for each inventory item is assigned. Therefore, each painting or piece of art will possess a different value and can be more easily kept track of. The cost of each item will then be tracked in the inventory and the ending inventory balance will take into account each of the costs of the remaining painting and art pieces.

  5. Chloe Sophie Viola, Justin Peter Vogels, Roland Von Harpe

    1- Mount Allison has the Owens Art Gallery on campus and the last time we went to visit it was either for class on Tuesdays or while on a high school trip 2 years ago.

    2- Yes, we would reunite the painting because it is part of a bigger collection and it would otherwise be ‘useless’ alone in our living room. By sharing the painting with the Met, everyone can see and appreciate art and that just feels like the right thing to do.

    3- We would use the specific identification formula since we can easily tell each piece of art from one another and they all have a unique values based on their composition that cannot be interchanged.

  6. Alex Smith, Ryan Richard, Kevinique Stubbs

    1. Yes, our campus has the Owen’s arty gallery, but none of our group has been.
    2. We thought we would not return the painting by donation because we bought it fair and square. Although, if compensated fairly we would return the painting.
    3. We would use the specific identification method, because the art has high values and unique distinguishable characteristics.

  7. Jessie Lynn Legrand, Bryden MacDonald, Tevin Lewis

    1. Yes at Mount Allison University we have the Owens Art gallery. One of our members previously had an intro to Art history class last year. The other two had not been.

    2. We came to the consensus that given we had acquired the art piece legally and payed out of pocket for this art piece, we would definitely want some sort of monetary compensation to even consider returning the piece.

    3. We chose the specific identification method, as the art has high value and we can easily identify all art pieces as they are all different and unique. –

  8. Keara Mahaney, Xinyi Li, Liv Lopez

    1. Mount Allison University is home to Owen’s Art Gallery. It is Canada’s first university art gallery and was opened to the public in 1895. In pre-covid times the gallery was open to the public and hosted many fun events such as “Maker Maker,” where you could learn and create your own piece of art. One of our team member’s past visits to the gallery was to collect samples of the air humidity and temperature for my geography and environment class. The gallery has special procedures to follow in order to protect the art pieces. Another member last visited the gallery for a photoshoot.

    2. If we were the elderly couple in the article we would’ve done what they did and returned the painting. The painting has such a strong and meaningful history behind it and deserves to be reunited with the rest of the exhibit. Art is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone, and this piece should be with the rest of its collection.

    3. If we were accountants or art dealers we would use specific identification to place a price on a piece of art. Due to the variety of and probable uniqueness of the artworks, it would be easy to differentiate pieces and tag them as different pieces of inventory.

  9. Chacha Dominion, Adrianna Dewar, Dylan Corkum

    1) Mount Allison University has the Owen’s art gallery, but only one member of our group has visited it in person. Another member of our group toured the art gallery virtually in October. The most recent visit in person was in January 2020.
    2) Our group thinks that if we were the elderly couple in the story, we would definitely not return the painting for free. Jacob Lawrence is a famous painter and we think giving it back for free is very kind, but not something we would be willing to part with.
    3) For an art gallery, we would use the specific identification cost accounting method. This is because each piece of art is different and distinguishable from others. Average cost of paintings and other art does not make sense because every piece is so different in construct and value.


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