May 2020.
Made in Brooklyn with love.​
Art Law Blast 2.0.
PS All puns are intended.
There Will Come Soft Rains
Dear Louise, 
... And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

~ Sara Teasdale (1918)

May days of 2020 are here. 

The 2019 Venice Biannual is over but the curse of its title –– "May you live in interesting times" –– is lingering. The art and the law worlds have been scrambling (who has not?!) to adjust to life during a coronavirus pandemic.

What have members of the arts and law communities, in their non-essential capacity, been doing while on quarantine? Thinking, homeschooling, donating, reacting, grieving, baking bread, marketing their service, adjusting, scrambling to stay productive and to survive. As a byproduct, we learned of (if not partook) countless virtual studio visits, hundreds of online gallery showcases, museums tours, casting theater performances, happy-hours, and birthday parties, not to mention webinars on all aspects of copyright, corporate law, drafting and executing wills, podcasts, and so on. Of all the side effects of social distancing, did you expect to suffer from FOMO, the social anxiety describing a fear that one is missing out on opportunities for enrichment, social interaction, experience other satisfactory events?

Cautiously and hopefully, like spring greens, we continue with our work. Later in the month, the Center will welcome its Summer Interns, who will by necessity start their work remotely and virtually. May spring showers them and all with health and free time.

Irina Tarsis
Founder and Managing Director

PS If FOMO has not worn you down yet, please be sure to: 
Take the survey
On Our Agenda
Cracking The Code: Legal Issues for Artists in The Digital Age (CLE)
May 6, 2020, 9 AM EST
Online (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts)
More information >>>

NEW Practical Tips for Art Market Participants in the COVID-19 Era
May 7, 2020, 1 PM EST
Online (Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz P.C.)
More information >>>

CENTER FOR ART LAW Art & Law COVID-19 Roundtable
May 8, 2020, 12 PM EST
Online, with the Artistic Freedom Initiative and MANA Contemporary
More information >>>

FILM PREMIERE American Trial: The Eric Garner Story (The Trial That Never Happened In Eric Garner’s Death)
May 18-21, 2020
More information >>>
Full Calendar

The Center for Art Law, the Artistic Freedom Initiative, and Mana Contemporary are joining forces to help the arts community navigate the impact of the crisis. In this virtual roundtable, four attorneys will address recurring questions, ranging from employmentimmigrationhousing, and contract issues that pertain to the creative field. While a $10 donation is encouraged, all contributions are appreciated!
Art Law Digest
Open With Caution. After China lifted its social distancing rules, the UNESCO world heritage site of the Huangshan mountains in Anhui province was flooded with visitors and was eventually closed back temporarily in March. Meanwhile, the Forbidden City has been reopened but visitor numbers are restricted to 5,000 a day. 

Museums Take the Hit. As Singapore was hit by a second wave of coronavirus, its museums have been closed since beginning of March. On April 22, 2020, The Metropolitan Museum of Art laid off more than 80 employees, after it revised its budget to address the pandemic, expecting its losses to reach $150 million. Meanwhile, in Germany, museums are preparing to reopen with strict social and hygiene measures in early May. In France, "small museums" will be reopened starting May 11.

Rent! While landlords in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue arts district waived rent for the next three months, New York galleries which closed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic now seek rent relief and started petitions to #cancelrent.

Rushed Return. In February 2020, Mexico returned an ancient bronze sculpture, which had been illegally smuggled out of Nigeria. After examination, the curator at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, revealed it to be “a fake, and of the worst quality.”

Smugglers Go Online. The Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project reported a surge in offers for looted antiquities over Facebook in the wake of COVID-19, pointing to the vulnerability of cultural sites during times of crisis. 

Going Online. As the British Museum launched its newly revamped online catalogue, it mistakenly credited “Her Hakki Mahfuzdur”, the Turkish term for “all rights reserved”, as Turkey’s largest producer of postcards. This week, the Museum also launched its new platform CircArt, identifying possible provenance issues regarding pre-Islamic antiquities from Egypt and Sudan. 

Surveying the Arts. According to an early survey by Americans for the Arts, financial losses to the US nonprofit arts sector are estimated to be $4.5 billion as of April 6. More recently, Artist Relief estimates that 95 percent of artists reported loss of income due to the pandemic.

Moral Rights, Anyone? A Brooklyn-based art collective purchased a Damien Hirst print for $30,000 and cut out its dots to sell them for $480 each, along with its hollowed-out frame "88 Holes," as an act of protest against fractionalized art investments.

Thou Shall Not Steal. Mid-April, Oxford papyrologist Dirk Obbink was arrested for allegedly selling 13 fragments of biblical fragments excavated from Egypt to Steve Green, President of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby and Chairman of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. The Museum has announced that it will return 11,500 pieces with dubious provenance to Iraq and Egypt.

Please Don't Stop The Music. The London police stopped Sotheby's auctioneer Helena Newman from playing concerts with her family's string quartet in front of their West London home, fearing that the concert encourages neighbors to break the lockdown to watch from the street. Andrew Lloyd Webber started screening his musicals to keep people at home and mesmerized.

Russian Lore Trove. Art historian Andrey Sarabyanov discovered dozens of works by avant-garde Russian artists such as Kandinsky,  Rodchenko, and others in the basement of the Yaransk Museum of Local Lore in Russia.

Case Law Corner

This month's Case Law Corner is paywall-free: click here to go to the webpage
and read our summaries of US and international art law cases. 

  • Farrington v. InfoWars, LLC, No. 1:2020cv00332 (W.D. T. filed Mar. 26, 2020).
  • AM General LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc. et al., No. 1:2017cv08644 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2020). 
  • Sinclair v. Ziff Davis LLC, et al., No. 1:18-cv-00790 (S.D.N.Y. Ap. 13, 2020).
  • Christie's Inc. v. Turner et al., No. 1:20-cv-03146 (S.D.N.Y. filed on Ap. 20, 2020).
  • Pindell v. N'Namdi et al., No. 1:2020cv00818 (S.D.N.Y. filed on Ap. 21, 2020). 
  • Morgan Art Found. Ltd. v. McKenzie et al., No. 1:18-cv-04438-AT (S.D.N.Y. filed on Ap. 27, 2020).
Read Art Law Cases

A. Jakubowski (ed.), Cultural heritage in the European Union: a critical inquiry into law and policy, Leiden | Brill Nijhoff (May 2019) ISBN: 978-90-04-36534-6. This book provides a critical analysis of the laws and policies which address cultural heritage throughout Europe, considering them in light of the current challenges faced by the Union. The volume examines the matrix of organisational and regulatory frameworks concerned with cultural heritage both in the Union and its Members States, as well as their interaction, cross-fertilisation, and possible overlaps. Available here

B. Savoy, Acquiring Culture, De Gruyter (Dec. 3, 2018) ISBN: 3110543982. As more parts of the world outside Europe became accessible - and in the wake of social and technological developments in the 18th century - a growing number of exotic artifacts entered European markets. This publication provides insights into the methods and places of exchange, networks, prices, expertise, and valuation concepts, as well as the transfer and transport of these artifacts over 300 years and across four continents. Available here

C. Lizama Salvatore (ed.), Cultural Heritage Care and Management: Theory and Practice, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (January 17, 2018) ISBN-10: 1538110911. This book covers a vast array of components such as landscape, foodways, performance and dance, language, etc. In addition, the tools, technologies, and methodologies for organizing and arranging, cataloging and describing, exhibiting, providing access, and preserving and conserving these components are also covered. Available here

P. Mosimann (ed.), Kultur Kunst Recht – Swiss and International Law, Helbing Lichtenhahn Verlag (2nd Ed. 2020), in German. The manual fills a gap in the specialist literature. It offers a comprehensive and competent presentation of legal questions in the field of culture and art. A detailed appendix with normative texts, unpublished jurisprudence, newspaper clippings and illustrations of exemplary works increases the practical benefits. Available here

More Art Law Books
On the Blog

Case Review: Republic of Turkey v. Christie’s
By David Jenkins. In recent years, the Republic of Turkey has displayed a dedication to preserving and repatriating its cultural artifacts and antiquities to be kept by the state.[1] In what the nation itself calls a “cultural war,” Turkey has engaged with countries like the United States, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and more […] 

Market-Ready: Concerns in Authentication and Appraisal of Russian Art
By Yulianna Vertinskaya. In January 2020, art collectors Igor and Olga Toporovski were arrested in Belgium on suspicion of handling stolen goods, fraud and money laundering.[1] The couple came under scrutiny in 2017, due to their involvement in the loan of artworks to the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ghent, Belgium for an exhibition entitled “Russian […] 

Commercial Misappropriation: Where Do Street Artists Draw The Line?
By Sara Osinski. There was once a time where the presence of graffiti was perceived as contributing to increased crime rates and decreased property values.[1] Since the 1970’s, graffiti culture and society’s perceptions of graffiti have changed drastically. Society’s tolerance for graffiti and the new wave of street art gradually evolved into praise, which attracted […] 
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Newsletter created and edited by:
Louise Carron, Irina Tarsis, and Tess Bonoli.
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