The Pew Charitable Trusts has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a battle over the "Dream Garden" mosaic and permanently prevent it from being sold and moved.
The mosaic, a 5-ton mural of 100,000 hand-fired pieces of glass in 260 color tones, is estimated to be worth $20 million. In 1916, it was installed in the lobby of what was then the Curtis Publishing Co., near Independence Hall.
The mosaic has been at the center of a dispute between four schools and the estates of the late art patron John Merriam and his wife, Elizabeth, who, as owner of 41 percent of her husband's estate, wanted the mural sold.
The four schools - the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, University of the Arts, and Bryn Mawr College - were given 59 percent of John Merriam's estate and want the mosaic to stay.
When Elizabeth Merriam died in March, her son, Robert Lockyer, continued the battle to keep control of the mosaic in the family.
But, under the terms of the deal reached Friday, Pew will pay $3.5 million to buy out the Merriam estate's share, then shift all ownership to the Academy of Fine Arts.
Lockyer issued a statement calling the resolution of the dispute "a reasonable compromise," the Philadephia Inquirer reported Tuesday.
The Academy agreed to maintain the artwork and never move it from its home in the lobby of the Curtis Center, the downtown building where it has stood for 85 years.
"Dream Garden," created by Philadelphia-born Parrish and glass artist Tiffany, depicts a pink and purple landscape of trees, flowers and waterfalls.
Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Pew Charitable Trusts, said preserving the artwork is worth the price.
"To me, it is magical," she said. "Most Philadelphians have never heard of it and have never been there. We want to make this a must-see."