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Celebrating Life
OBITUARIES: This summer, two luminaries of the art and cultural heritage legal profession passed away.

Charles A. Goldstein (July 30, 2015)
At the avant-garde of international efforts to recover Nazi-era looted art,
 Charles A. Goldstein, attorney of counsel with Herrick, Feinstein LLP, was the backbone of the Commission for Art Recovery, as well as an inspiration and a staunch supporter of the restitution efforts for property stolen from the victims of the Holocaust. 

John Henry Merryman (August 3, 2015)
Stanford University Law School faculty member for more than four decades, John Henry Merryman taught his first “Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts” course in 1971. Through these courses and his most influential eponymous art law treatise, now in its 5th edition, Merryman was able to connect with thousands of developing legal minds and help shape the discipline. 
* * *
May the two pioneers rest in peace and may the enthusiasm and dedication they brought to their work continue through the efforts of their pupils, colleagues, friends and families. 

What's New:
PALMYRA NO MORE: Islamic State insurgents captured the ancient city of Palmyra in May 2015, and despite statements that the historic site would not be damaged, proceeded to destroy ancient temples in August of 2015. According to the Director-General of UNESCO, the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage monuments “are war crimes and their perpetrators must be accountable for their actions. UNESCO stands by all Syrian people in their efforts to safeguard their heritage, a heritage for all humanity.” The barbaric actions were preceded by the beheading of an 82-year old antiquities scholar, Khaled Assad, who supervised preservation of antiques in Palmyra for over 50 years."

HARD FEELINGS IN THE CLOUDAnish Kapoor is feeling protective, read defensive, as his creations generate reaction from the viewers. In France, his installation "Dirty Corner" at Versailles was vandalized, to which Kapoor reportedly observed that the vandalism “represents a certain intolerance that is appearing in France about art." Following Kapoor's decision to leave the hateful graffiti on his work, Versailles municipal councilor, Fabien Bouglé, filed a complaint against the artist, stating that Kapoor's decision is breeding intolerance. Meanwhile, in China, a newly created public artwork, "Big Oil Bubble," by an unnamed artist, looks suspiciously like Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" in Chicago. Legal action may be forthcoming. 

RESTITUTION CLAIM REJECTED: After reviewing a claim for a Renior painting held by the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel has decided the painting will not be restituted to the heirs of Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer. The rejection is based on a lack of evidence that supports the claim that the painting was part of a Nazi-forced sale in 1935.

FAMILY'S WARHOLS REPLACED WITH FAKES: A Los Angeles family recently discovered that their prized Warhol prints have been replaced with fakes. The prints were displayed in the family's movie editing studio for decades; the crime was discovered when the silkscreens began to sag in their frames and were taken for reframing.

DUE DILIGENCE? A French judge fined art dealer Yves Bouvier 27 million euros for his involvement in the sale a numerous stolen Picassos. Bouvier asserts that he was not aware the works he sold were stolen, and in fact performed due diligence checks on the works in question. 

November 5, 2015 -- Art Law Mixer at Doyle Auction House (NYC, NY)
December 10, 2015 -- Art Law Mixer at Minus Space (Brooklyn, NY)

We are pleased to offer special guided tours of the Sotheby's selling exhibition "Icons: The Art of Appropriation" with Irina Tarsis, Founder and Director of the Center for Art Law. Join us on September 26 or October 10 at 11 a.m. for some legal basics about art appropriation. Spaces are limited.  
Motivations of artists and collectors when creating or acquiring artworks containing copyright protected works of others are their own. The legal field, however, has long tried to come to a consensus on how much taking of another artist's work is just right and how much is too much and in violation of the intellectual property rights. The tours will introduce participants to the key concepts of copyright law and arguments for and against protecting appropriation in art. Familiarity with Richard Prince, Patrick Cariou, Andy Warhol or the fair use test not required.
*Sept. 26, 2015 -- Special Guided Tour: Icons: The Art of Appropriation (Sotheby's, NY, NY) 

Join one of our See Art, Think Art Law tours of the selling exhibition of appropriation art at Sotheby's.  
*Sept. 28, 2015 -- Welcome Back! Center for Art Law Happy Hour @ the Art Bar (NY, NY) 

Is it over yet?! The long summer of 2015 is winding down, and we are happy to have survived it. To officially welcome the new academic year, as well as to introduce our new interns and volunteers to the old guard, Center for Art Law is inviting you to grab a drink at the Art Bar in the Village. Critics, would-be-writers, future benefactors and friends are welcome.  
*Oct. 24, 2015 -- Issues in Provenance Research (The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH) 10AM - 5PM

Following the signing of the 1998 Washington Principles—museums and other art world institutions have increasingly recognized the importance of conducting provenance research on their own collections and on works of art that otherwise pass through their hands. More and more museums are dedicating resources to due diligence research, and a handful of US museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, have created positions devoted specifically to this task.  Still, much work remains to be done.  This symposium will look at the issues of provenance research and due diligence from the perspectives of four different spheres within the art world: independent research/consulting, museums, auction houses and the legal field. 

Panelists include:
  • Laurie Stein, Independent Provenance Researcher;
  • Lawrence Kaye, Esq., Herrick, Feinstein, LLP;
  • MaryKate Cleary, Art Recovery International;
  • Lucien Simmons, Esq., Sotheby's.
Moderated by Stephen J. Knerly, Esq., Knerly, Hahn Loeser, Parks, LLP.

*Oct. 17-21, 2015 -- Legal Training for Global Art Collection Management Law, Museums and the Material Culture (Melbourne Museum, Australia)

A training program modeled to offer expertise in the legal issues of collections management, leading to a qualification awarded by the Institute.
*Oct. 21-22, 2015 -- Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and Occupied Europe in the Light of the Nazi-Art Looting (The Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia in Prague)

6th international conference on the confiscation, thefts and transfers of works of art as a result of Nazi rule over Czechoslovakia and Europe during the Second World War and in the post-war period organized by the Documentation Centre for Property Transfers of Cultural Assets of WWII Victims p.b.o.
*Oct. 28 - Nov. 1, 2015 -- Counterfeits and Fakes: the Authenticity Dilemma (Union Internationale des Avocats 59th Congress, Palacio de Congresos de Valencia)

The session will explore the main issues which may arise with regard to authenticity, misattribution of works of art. What is authentic and what is a fake? Who has the right to determine authenticity? Should authenticity be addressed differently for old masters and modern/contemporary art?
NOTE: *Events are appearing in the Newsletter for the first time.
  • Simcor LLC v. Mahama, 2:15-cv-4539 (C.D. Cal. June 15, 2015) --After discovering unknown Ghanian artist Ibrahim Mahama, plaintiffs Stefan Simchowitz and Jonathan Ellis King helped to build the young artist a studio and reputation. Mahama then contracted to create works exclusively for plaintiffs to display and sell. According to plaintiffs, Mahama breached this agreement by selling 20 similar works to an unnamed collector and by disclaiming authorship of the 294 signed, commissioned works, reportedly because he was dissatisfied with the quality of the finished products. Plaintiffs have sued to recover $4.45M from Mahama, the estimated value of the 267 unsold works in their possession. DCA.
  • Building Industry Association - Bay Area v. Oakland, 3:2015cv03392 (N.D. Cal. July 23, 2015) -- A developers' industry group has filed suit against the City of Oakland alleging that its Percentage for Art ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution. The ordinance, passed in February, requires that 1% of the budgets for non-residential construction projects and 0.5% of the budgets for residential projects be spent on art. Among other arguments, the plaintiffs claim that this amounts to unlawful compulsion of speech in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. DCA.
  • Fontes v. Autocom Networks, Inc., C 15-02044 CRB (N.D. Cal. 2015) -- Dan Fontes' mural of Lake Merritt had been locally famous since it was painted on the side of an Oakland building in 1987. Fontes has filed suit against the building's current and former owners after the current tenant, a Nissan dealership, whitewashed the mural, which had already been damaged by graffiti. Fontes is seeking $400,000, arguing that VARA requires building owners to give 90 days notice of their intent to remove an artist's work from their property. DCA.
  • Honolulu Art Museum v. Greene, Civil No. 15-1-1515-07 ECN (HI Cir. 1st, Aug. 28, 2015) -- The Honolulu Art Museum has filed suit against eighty-year-old art collector Joel A. Greene for $880,000, alleging that Greene failed to provide adequate provenance for five Southeast Asian works of art that he donated in exchange for quarterly payments of $80,000 for the duration of his life. Suspicions about the works, worth $1.275 million, first arose in 2011 after the Department of Homeland Security seized seven works from the museum that had originated from Asian art smuggler Subhash Kapoor. DCA.
  • Committee to Save Cooper Union v. Bd. of Trustees of the Cooper Union, No. 0155185-2014 (N.Y. Sup. 2015) -- Cooper Union has agreed to settle a 2014 lawsuit filed by a group of faculty and alumni to restore the school's 155-year-old tuition-free model. The settlement, pending review by the New York Supreme Court, would create a "Free Education Committee" tasked with developing a plan to return to the no-tuition system. The art, design and engineering college will also add alumni-elected members and two students to its board of trustees. DCA.
For a full list of books and articles featured previously, please visit our Publications page.
  • Sarah Gensburger, Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews: A Photographic Album, Paris, 1940-1944, (2015) - While Nazi plundering of art has returned to the headlines in recent years, their thievery was far from being limited to artworks. From 1942 onwards, ordinary Parisian Jews were robbed of toys, saucepans, furniture, sheets and so on. Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews tells how this vast enterprise of plunder was implemented in the streets of Paris by analyzing images found in the Federal Archives of Koblenz.
  • Susan Ronald, Hitler's Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe's Treasures, (2015) - Cornelius Gurlitt made headlines in 2013 after 1,400 artworks worth $1.35 billion were discovered in his Munich apartment. Gurlitt--who had no bank account, never paid tax or received social security--had inherited the collection from his father, an "official dealer" for Hitler and Goebbels during the Third Reich. Not only did Gurlitt loot from Jews and museums in the name of the Nazis, he also stole from Hitler, allegedly to protect art. This is the untold story of Hildebrand Gurlitt, who stole more than art--he stole lives, too.
  • Simon Goodman, The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis, (2015) - Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history or heritage. But when he passed away, and Simon received his father’s old papers, a story began to emerge. This is the true story of one man’s quest to reclaim what the Nazis stole from his family, their beloved art collection, and to restore their legacy.

WYWH: Forgeries and Fakes from “Fakes, Forgeries and Looted and Stolen Art”

By Lindsay Dekter* Following a multi-year investigation between 2011 and 2014, East Hampton art forger John Re was sentenced in May 2015 to five years in prison after nearly a decade of defrauding art collectors. Re passed off more than 60 paintings attributed to artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, amounting in…Read more WYWH: Forgeries and Fakes from “Fakes, Forgeries and Looted and Stolen Art”
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The New Frontier of Cultural Property Protections: When Acquiring Cultural Objects Supports Terrorism

By Timur Tusiray* The United States Anti-Terror Act, 18 USC 2331, et seq. (“ATA”or the “Anti-Terror Act”), a potent anti-terrorism law (enacted in 1991) often used to prosecute financial institutions and other organizations, has now been identified as a tool to pursue individuals who operate in the cultural property market for materially supporting foreign terrorist organizations…Read more The New Frontier of Cultural Property Protections: When Acquiring Cultural Objects Supports Terrorism
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Cosby’s “Conversations”: How Should Museums Decide What is in the Public’s Best Interest?

By Debra S. Friedmann* Part of the core mission of the majority of museums is to educate the public. One way they achieve this is by using a range of informative literature: signs and labels to accompany a painting, an exhibition or a show. Some museums default to what has been coined the “tombstone label,”…Read more Cosby’s “Conversations”: How Should Museums Decide What is in the Public’s Best Interest?
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Summertime and the Art Buyin’ is Easy: Asking Questions about Art Transactions

  By Daniel S. Kokhba, Esq.* In the art market, a work of art is often carefully scrutinized and questioned by collectors and their agents concerning its style and substance. The art sale, however, may receive far less careful review. Given the prevalence of fraud, conflict of interest and lack of transparency in such transactions,…Read more Summertime and the Art Buyin’ is Easy: Asking Questions about Art Transactions
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