The tour raised more than $16 million for the private foundation, founded in 1922 by the late Albert C. Barnes.
The suit claims that Glanton, during negotiations with Italian representatives, used his status as president of the Barnes Foundation to gain business for his private law practice ``and to further his active social life.''
Businessman Antonio Guizzetti, an Italian citizen and international consultant based in Washington, D.C., also is suing Glanton, the Barnes Foundation and its four trustees.
The suit notes that Glanton sought to do legal work for an Italian pharmaceutical group, Alitalia Airlines, Fiat, Super Channel Television, the Memmo Foundation, the Carlyle Group and Princess Marcella Borghese.
It doesn't say what, if any, work Glanton or his firm had gotten from these businesses as a result of his association with Guizzetti.
The suit says Glanton made three trips to Rome to discuss the exhibition, was a guest of the city at least once and as such was lodged in a five-star hotel and provided with a car and a chauffeur.
In March 1995, some 29 months after Glanton first suggested the possibility of an Italian venue for the once-in-a-lifetime art tour, Guizzetti learned from a newspaper article that the tour was bound for Munich, Germany, the suit says.
Guizzetti sent an urgent message to Glanton, but Glanton allegedly continued to insist the tour would go to Rome. Glanton, who is black, claimed the newspaper report was racially motivated, according to the suit.
Guizzetti and other Roman officials believed Glanton's assurances and continued planning for the exhibition, the suit asserts.
The tour did go to Munich, which paid the foundation $2.25 million. It never stopped in Italy, which had agreed to pay the foundation $3 million.
The suit, filed by Philadelphia attorneys James E. Beasley and Michael A. Smerconish, seeks unspecified ``expectation damages'' to cover lost revenue, plus the costs spent on negotiations and preparing for the exhibition in Rome.
The suit also seeks punitive damages to punish Glanton for alleged outrageous conduct.A co-plaintiff, MUSE, an Italian business that promotes artistic and cultural affairs, was forced to declare bankruptcy as a direct result of Glanton's alleged breach of contract, the suit asserts.
The last time Glanton was a defendant in federal court in Philadelphia was in 1993, when attorney Kathleen A. Frederick, a former law firm associate, sued him for sexual harassment. The case was secretly settled on appeal.
Glanton yesterday denied wrongdoing and called the Italians' complaints ``sour grapes.''
Glanton also said the museum chosen by the Romans to host the tour, the Museo Capitolino, ``was not equipped environmentally or staff-wise to house the Barnes collection.''
Glanton said he had made no agreements or promises with the Romans. He denied using the tour negotiations to find new business for himself or the law firm.