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What's New:
ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESTITUTIONThe J. Paul Getty Museum and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America reached an agreement regarding the ownership of eight pages of a 13th-century illustrated manuscript that was taken from the Catholiosate of Cilicia during the Armenian Genocide, between 1915-1923. The agreement settles a $105 million lawsuit filed against the museum in 2010, whereby the Armenian Church is the rightful owner of the illuminations and the Museum a long-term steward of the loaned pages.

$5 MILLION FOR JUSTICE: The U.S. Department of State is offering a handsome reward to anyone disrupting the Islamic State's illicit trafficking of oil and antiquities. The reward comes through the Rewards for Justice program, begun in 1984, with the goal of abating terrorism. Looted antiquities have played a large role in funding the Islamic State, and it is hoped the substantial reward will bring to light "information regarding individuals or entities engaged in the production, facilitation, processing, smuggling, distribution, sale, and trade of oil and antiquities" that benefits terrorist groups.

YVES BOUVIER, CONTINUED: The battle between a Swiss businessman "who owns various art-related services," Yves Bouvier, and a wealthy Russian businessman and art collector, Dmitry Rybolovlev, hopped the pond last week when papers were filed in a U.S. Federal court. On September 25th, Plaintiff's attorney filed a lengthy declaration against Sandy Heller of the Heller Gallery seeking discovery for a foreign proceeding in the ongoing dispute between Bouvier and Rybolovlev regarding private art sales.

TAKE BACK YOUR PICASSO(S): The aforementioned Dmitry Rybolovlev agreed to return two Picasso drawingsWoman Arranging Her Hair and Spanish Woman with a Fan to the artist's family following the allegations by Picasso’s step-daughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, that the artworks were stolen from her private collection. Rybolovlev purchased these works from the aforementioned Bouvier...

September 30, 2015, marked the beginning of a proceeding in defense of cultural heritage at the International Criminal Court (ICC), following attacks committed against ten historic monuments in the World Heritage City of Timbuktu in 2012. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is the first to be charged with the destruction of cultural heritage under the 2002 Rome Statute. This "represents an important step forward in the fight against impunity, not only in Mali but also in the broader Sahel and Sahara region of Africa, whose populations have in recent years been subjected to unspeakable crimes," said Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In the same statement, Bensouda acknowledged the gravity of attacks against cultural heritage and the importance of standing up to this destruction. The next hearing for the case is scheduled for January 18, 2016. 

CULTURAL DIPLOMACY WITH RUSSIA: It seems the breakdown of cultural relations between Russia and the United States--following the ongoing dispute over the Chabad-Lubavitch group's collection of books and archives--has taken an international turn. Beginning in 2011, the Russian government banned its museums from loaning objects to the US, and has most recently cut cultural collaboration with Sweden. In 2014, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ordered Russia to compensate Yukos shareholders for $50 billion in assets, which has resulted in tension with some of its neighbors. Following this decision, Sweden (and perhaps soon other European countries) joins the United States in Russia's culture embargo, with a recently scheduled Chagall show cancelled when the Russian government denied the loan of 40 paintings to the Millesgarden Museum. But see Minnesota exception.

October 20, 2015 -- AC Institute 
16 E 48th St., NYC, NY)

November 5, 2015 -- Doyle Auction House
(175 E 87th St., NYC, NY)
November 18, 2015 -- sepiaEYE 
547 W 27th St., NYC, NY)

December 10, 2015 -- Minus Space
(16 Main St., Brooklyn, NY)
So much to do, so little time. To help you plan your art law calendar, check out the full listing of past and upcoming events on our radar.
*Oct. 14, 2015 -- Rights and Relationships: Key Legal Issues for Artists (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NYC, NY) 6:30PM - 8:30 PM
*Oct. 15-16, 2015 -- Art Restitution, Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Human Right to Identity (John Marshall Law School, IL)

A symposium that will examine art and cultural heritage as a human right, particularly in the context of war and military occupation.

*Oct. 20, 2015 -- Art Law Mixer (AC Institute, NY) 6PM - 8PM

Join us at the AC Institute for the first Art Law Mixer of 2015/2016. Details to come, but RSVP now!

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. 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?
more here...
*Nov. 3, 2015 -- Art Law: Authentication, Past and Present (City Bar Centre for CLE) 6pm - 8pm
Experts speak about the history of art forgery cases, including the recent case involving the Knoedler Gallery. This program is intended for practitioners of art law, trust and estate law, and other art industry professionals.
*Dec. 1, 2015 -- Art, Law and Crisis of Connoisseurship (The Society of Antiquaries of London, London, UK) 

A one-day conference co-organized by Center for Art Law, ArtWatch UK and LSE faculty.

NOTE: These *  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.
Alison Young, Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination, (2014) -  Since the late 1990s, a distinctive cultural practice has emerged in many cities: street art, involving the placement of unsolicited artworks in public places. Sometimes regarded as a variant of graffiti, sometimes called a new art movement, its practitioners engage in illicit activities while at the same time the resulting artworks can command high prices at auction and have become collectable aesthetic commodities. Such paradoxical responses show that street art challenges conventional understandings of culture, law, crime and art.

Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Le Catalogue Goering, (2015) -  The complete catalogue of Hermann Goering's collection of art is included in this publication. The catalogue lists around 1400 stolen works, from Botticelli and Dürer to Renoir and Monet, along with 250 sculptures and 168 tapestries. It is hoped the publication will aid restitution efforts.

Jonathan Petropoulos, Artists Under Hitler: Collaboration and Survival in Nazi Germany, (2014) -  Artists Under Hitler closely examines cases of artists who failed in their attempts to find accommodation with the Nazi regime (Walter Gropius, Paul Hindemith, Gottfried Benn, Ernst Barlach, Emil Nolde) as well as others whose desire for official acceptance was realized (Richard Strauss, Gustaf Gründgens, Leni Riefenstahl, Arno Breker, Albert Speer).  Collectively these ten figures illuminate the complex cultural history of Nazi Germany, while individually they provide haunting portraits of people facing excruciating choices and grave moral questions.

Suzanne Hudson, Painting Now, (2015) - In Painting Now, renowned critic and art historian Suzanne Hudson offers an intelligent and original survey of contemporary painting—a critical snapshot that brings together more than 200 artists from around the world whose work is defining the ideas and aesthetics that characterize the painting of our time. Hudson’s rigorous inquiry takes shape through the analysis of a range of internationally renowned painters, alongside reproductions of their key works to illustrate the concepts being discussed. These luminaries include Franz Ackermann, Michaël Borremans, Chuck Close, Angela de la Cruz, Subodh Gupta, Julie Mehretu, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Elizabeth Peyton, Wilhelm Sasnal, Luc Tuymans, Zhang Xiaogang, and many others.

Spotlight: Institute for Museum and Library Services (DC)

By Debra S. Friedmann* Combining the number of all Starbucks and McDonald’s locations will still not come close to the number of museums and libraries in all of the United States. According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (the “IMLS” or the “Institute”), an independent government agency dedicated to the innovation and improvement…Read more Spotlight: Institute for Museum and Library Services (DC)
Read on »

WYWH: Looted in “Fakes, Forgeries and Looted and Stolen Art” (NYC)

By Rebecca Krishnan-Ayer * “In many ways, cultural heritage defines what it means to be human.  It is a tangible reminder of the beauty and accomplishment of the ancient civilizations, our common origins, and our shared history and identity.  It inspires a sense of belonging and is a source of pride.  Culture has the exceptional…Read more WYWH: Looted in “Fakes, Forgeries and Looted and Stolen Art” (NYC)
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Towering Ban on Ivory Trade

By Mia Tomijima* Ever since the United States announced the ban of commercial trade of African elephant ivory in February 2014 in order to protect dwindling populations of the endangered mammal, it seems that not a day has gone by without ivory being mentioned in the news. Recently, a loan of Byzantine-era ivory religious reliefs from…Read more Towering Ban on Ivory Trade
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Hopi Restitution Suits: Questions of Standing and Rights

By Lindsay Voirin, Esq.* Center for Art Law previously reported that the Hopi Tribal Council partnered with the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) to file suit against France’s board of auctions for refusing to stop the sale of sacred Hopi objects, having concluding that Native American tribes lack legal standing to bring a cultural claim…Read more Hopi Restitution Suits: Questions of Standing and Rights
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WYWH: Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts’ Event “Galleries 101 – Law for Visual Artists” (DC)

By Elena Kravtsoff, Esq.*         In the middle of summer, on July 21, 2015, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts’ (WALA) Visual Arts Subcommittee hosted “Galleries 101 – Law for Visual Artists,” at the Hamiltonian Gallery. WALA is a non-profit organization that supports the artistic community in the DC area by offering…Read more WYWH: Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts’ Event “Galleries 101 – Law for Visual Artists” (DC)
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