February 2021 (Volume IX Issue 2)
Made in Brooklyn with love.​
Art Law Blast 2.0.
PS All puns are intended.
Culture Continues
Dear <<First Name>>,

In the midst of a snowstorm hitting the Northeast, here is some heartwarming news from the Center for Art Law: 
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On Our Calendar
What prospects for "orphan works" ? Reflections on cultural goods without provenance
Feb. 4-5, 2021
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CENTER FOR ART LAW Art Law Lunch Talk: Heavy Lifting in Public Art
February 17, 2021
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CENTER FOR ART LAW Art & Law Auction 2021: Virtual Gala and Artists' Reception
February 23, 2021

CENTER FOR ART LAW Art Law Lunch Talk: Covering Your Basis, Taxes and Appraisals for Art
March 3, 2021
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CENTER FOR ART LAW Art Law Lunch Talk: Lessons Not Learned, Fraudsters in the Art Market
March 10, 2021
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See the full calendar
Art Law Digest

A planned public art installation in Budapest, Hungry is the subject of controversy. The three-foot-tall sculpture, by artist Péter Szalay, depicts a rainbow-striped Statue of Liberty on bended knee, an allusion to US athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against Black Americans. Szalay claims members of Hungary’s right-wing, nationalist Fidesz party have threatened to “punish” him for the statue.

$100 million worth of artwork is at issue in a prominent divorce settlement proceeding in the United Kingdom between a Russian billionaire, Farkhad Akhmedov, and his ex-wife, Tatiana Akhmedova. Ms. Akhmedova is owed a $615 million divorce settlement, but Mr. Akhmedov has refused to pay and was caught trying to move artworks from Liechtenstein to his yacht in Dubai.

Art galleries, among other businesses, are now eligible to receive financial support from insurers for coronavirus-related losses, according to a new Supreme Court ruling in the United Kingdom. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared that New York City must begin reviving the arts community. New York will start a public-private partnership with pop-up concerts featuring notable artists and Cuomo aims to expand rapid testing to make it easier for people to get tested before going to restaurants or other outings.

Nick Cave’s public art installation in Kinderhook, New York, will now have a new home at the Brooklyn Museum. The piece, consisting of 25-foot-tall black vinyl letters reading “Truth Be Told” that was displayed over the facade of a school, is meant to send a message against Donald Trump’s presidency and how acts of racism and propaganda are falsely portrayed as patriotism. The piece has been altered to just say “Truth.”

On January 1, new laws came into effect in France raising the value thresholds at which an export certificate or “passport” must be obtained for a variety of art, antiques, and collectibles. Now, art over 50 years old does not need a license, unless it is a painting valued at €300,000 or more, or a watercolor, pastel, or gouache valued at over €50,000. The threshold also increased for sculptures and archeological artifacts. The new regulations are considered beneficial to the French art industry, as they remove a barrier to exporting art. 

Shortly after its departure from the EU, the UK announced that it will not follow the EU’s 2019 regulation on the import of cultural property, requiring antiquities dealers to obtain a license. Many who work in the art market complained about the regulation, especially Article 3:1, which declares that any artwork can be seized and returned to its place of origin at any point.

February 17, 2021 at 12 PM EST
Speakers: Kenseth Armstead, Sarah Conley Odenkirk, and Irina Tarsis

A copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s record-breaking "Salvator Mundi" (the original having been sold for $450 million), has been recovered by Italian police after it was stolen from a Naples basilica museum. The stolen work was recovered from a 36-year-old’s apartment, located near the Museum of San Domenico Maggiore, and has now been returned to Rome.

“Das Klavierspiel” (c. 1840), a drawing by German artist Carl Spitzweg, has been recovered and returned to its rightful owners, Henri Hinrichen’s heirs. This drawing had been seized by the Gestapo in 1939, and purchased a year later by Hildebrand Gurlitt. It is now in the possession of Christie’s, per Hinrichen’s descendants’ request.

According to the Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report, social media has risen to the third most successful sales channel for galleries, while art fairs have dropped to sixth place. Galleries have begun investing in digital marketing and spending more funds on advertising through social media. Many galleries have also started operating online-only businesses.

A few days before the end of his presidency, Donald Trump granted a full pardon to Helly Nahmad, the art dealer who was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in 2014 after he pled guilty to a single federal gambling charge. He had been caught co-organizing a $100 million gambling ring right out of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York.

An ancient marble statue of the goddess of Cybele has been repatriated to the Republic of Turkey. An Israeli citizen consigned the Cybele statue for sale at a New York auction house and received an export license from the Israeli government, despite suspicious provenance. The Turkish government contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the auction house seeking to halt the sale and, after a legal battle, the statue was returned by the owner to the Turkish government in December 2020.

On January 4, the Israel Antiquities Authority (“IAA”) announced the bust of a smuggling network that had been suspected of illegally trafficking large amounts of artifacts. These items were recovered from three Tel Aviv warehouses, and the head of the IAA’s antique robbery prevention unit stated that this recovery may be “one of the most significant” in our history.

Israel’s High Court of Justice delivered a ruling temporarily postponing the sale of 258 lots from Jerusalem’s L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art at Sotheby’s London auction house. The cases focus on the Museum's alleged noncompliance with Israeli law regulating deaccessions and sales from museum collections, as well as claims that the government has mismanaged its oversight of museums.

The Allentown Art Museum, PA, believed it owned a painting that was made in the studio of Rembrandt van Rijn. The piece, “Portrait of a Lady” (1632), has a complicated history: originally attributed to the Dutch master when given to the museum in 1961, then reattributed to a member of his workshop in the 1970s, and is now, after robust testing in 2018, declared an original Rembrandt once again. 

A new virtual platform has popped up to match pieces owners are looking to donate with museums in need. The platform, known as the Museum Exchange, is a subscription-based online catalog of works that aims to put donors in touch with museums looking for items that support their mission. The Exchange is part of a larger trend in the art world to represent broader scopes of contemporary work.

Mwazalu Diyabanza, a Congolese restitution activist, has officially been fined and imprisoned for his attempt to steal an art object from the Louvre Museum. Diyabanza argued that he never stole the work, as it was already stolen.

Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh brings attention to Germany’s role in current restitution debates surrounding the Benin Bronzes with his new art project, which comprises over 200 “missing” posters plastered across the city of Dresden, bringing the discussion of cultural repatriation into the public eye.

In response to the challenge of identifying stolen objects, German information technology experts are developing an app to identify looted cultural heritage. The app uses government-funded image-recognition software that will allow law enforcement officials to work with international organizations to identify objects from photos.

In 2020, German-born art adviser Angela Gulbenkian was accused of fraud after a scandal involving a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture and Hong Kong-based art dealer Mathieu Ticolat. Ticolat wired Gulbenkian $1.4 million for the pumpkin, but never received the piece. The resulting manhunt for Gulbenkian reached across the globe, until she was arrested in Portugal in June 2020. Her trial is now scheduled for early 2021. 

March 3, 2021 at 12 PM EST
Speakers: Evie Joselow, Pamela Grutman, and Irina Tarsis
Case Law Corner
  • U.S. v. Dere, No. 1:20-cr-00501 (S.D.N.Y. filed on Sept. 15, 2020). 
  • Vision Makers Inc. et al. v. The Bridgeman Art Library Limited, No. 1:20-cv-09964 (S.D.N.Y. filed Nov. 25, 2020). 
  • Xiaoqian Gu v. Lehmann-Maupin L.L.C., No. 657157/2020 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Dec. 21, 2020). 
  • Keenan v. Christie’s Inc., No. 154986/2016, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 07706, 2020 WL 7502235, at *1 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec. 22, 2020). 
  • Weingrad & Weingrad P.C. v. Hon. Paul A. Goetz J.S.C., No. 150004/2021 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Jan. 4, 2021). 
  • McGurr v. The North Face Apparel Corp. et al., No. 2:21-cv-00269 (W.D. Cal. filed Jan. 12, 2021). 
  • Struna v. Sotheby’s, Inc., No. 150602/2021 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Jan. 20, 2021).
Read the full Case Law Corner
As a member of the Amazon Associate Program, the Center for Art Law may earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using the links below to give back to the Center with each book.

Norman Palmer, Museums and the Holocaust, Institute of Art and Law (Jan. 2021) 2nd ed. The ways in which museums and governments have responded to the challenges of achieving justice when confronted with claims vary greatly, and this book looks at a representative sample of countries to examine their approaches to this issue and the legislation they have enacted. The book contains chapters on each of the countries with restitution committees (Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), together with a selection of other countries which highlight differences of approach (Australia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland and the United States). Available here.

Noah Charney, The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Made the Art World, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Aug. 2021). This book is a guided tour of the history of art through its scandals, rivalries, and shocking acts, each of which resulted in a positive step forward for art in general and, in most cases, for the careers of the artists in question. In addition to telling dozens of stories, lavishly illustrated in full color, of such dramatic moments and arguing how they not only affected the history of art but affected it for the better, the book also examine the proactive role of the recipients of these intentionally dramatic actions: The art historians, the critics and even the general public. Available here.

Lawrence Kaye and Howard Spiegler, eds., The Art Law Review, Law Business Research (Jan. 2021). Co-edited by the "Deans of Art Law," this is the inaugural edition of The Art Law Review. published with the intention of gathering information from lead art law practitioners from all over the world, including Massimo Sterpi, William Charron, Katharina Garbers-von Boehm, our founder Irina Tarsis and one of our advisors, Yael M Weitz. The Review is divided into two sections, one focusing on select areas of art law, and another focusing on specific jurisdictions (USA, Switzerland, Russia, etc). The field has developed to become a significant specialty in the law, as collectors, galleries, auction houses, museums and everyone else involved with art have expanded their reach throughout the world; this volume compiles many of the advancements in the field. Available here

More Art Law Books
On the Blog

Case Review: René Gimpel’s Heirs Fight for Restitution by French Museums (2020)
By Angélie Pompée. Andre Derain, Paysage à Cassis (1907); La Chapelle Sous Crécy (1910); Pinède, Cassis (1907); The Gimpel Gallery in Trouville-sur-Mer, Calvados, around 1900. On Wednesday, September 30, 2020, the Paris Court of Appeals released a landmark decision ordering the French Ministry of Culture and the City of Marseille (south of France) to return […] 

“Transfers of Good Faith”: Two Years Post-Sarr Savoy Report and European Repatriation of Colonial Artifacts
By Kelley Tackett.  On December 17, 2020, French legislators passed an unprecedented bill pertaining to the permanent return of objects violently looted from Benin during colonization (“the Bill”).[1] The Bill, which passed through the National Assembly in July 2020, received unanimous support in early November from the French Senate. The Bill envisages the return of […] 
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Newsletter created and edited by:
Louise Carron, Irina Tarsis, Tess Bonoli, Lucy Siegel, Marie Kessel, Gabrielle Discafani, Laura Kaiser.
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