The North American rights to Don Argott's "The Art of the Steal" have been acquired by Rainbow Media (which owns IFC Films) for its new theatrical and video-on-demand label Sundance Selects. The announcement comes 10 days after the film premiered to considerable acclaim at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and a week prior to the film's U.S. premiere at the 2009 New York Film Festival.
A bidding situation with four different buyers resulted in the deal, which is reported to have come with a substantial six figure advance. Sundance Selects - which has a mix of execs from Sundance and IFC Films handling both acquisitions and marketing - will release the film widely in theaters in 2010 in at least fifteen cities.
"Sheena and I are thrilled to be a part of the Sundance Selects family and we look forward to working together to share this important story with audiences," husband and wife director/producer team Don Argott and Sheena Joyce said in a statement.
"The Art of the Steal" chronicles the long, politically charged struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, the greatest collection ever assembled of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art. Arianna Bocco and Jeff Deutchman of IFC Films negotiated the deal on behalf of Sundance Selects with Josh Braun of Submarine. Justin Wineburgh handled legal on behalf of the filmmakers and Betsy Rogers provided legal counsel for Sundance Selects.
"This is an exquisitely made, thrilling film that encompasses everything from backroom politics, claims of a major art heist, and a rags-to-riches American Dream tale crushed by the powers that be," IFC Films' Jonathan Sehring said on behalf of Sundance Selects, in a statement. "This is a must-see film. Don Argott raises questions that are both important and thought provoking. We couldn't be happier to be in business with Don, Sheena Joyce and Lenny Feinberg. We're thrilled to add this to our growing slate of films for Sundance Selects."
"The Art of the Steal" was produced by Sheena M. Joyce from 9.14 Pictures and executive produced by Lenny Feinberg from MAJ Productions.
Sundance Selects is a theatrical and transactional video-on-demand film label for documentaries and world cinema, which launched last month by Rainbow Media with the release of Spike Lee's acclaimed film, "Passing Strange." Sundance Selects releases are available on the on-demand platform of major cable operators, with select titles also receiving theatrical distribution. Rainbow Media is also responsible for IFC in Theaters and IFC Festival Direct.