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What's New:
  • Time for plagiarism: Saudi artist Ahmed Mater is suing the Swiss Swatch group for €1,337,500, alleging plagiarism of his work Magnetism (2012) in a watch advertisement. Magnetism, described as "one of the most important works by young artists in the Arab world," depicts the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca pilgrimage to Mecca, with iron shavings representing pilgrims oriented around a black magnet representing the Kaaba. Swatch's ad replaces the cube with a watch.
  • Good catch: A 1911 Picasso work which was stolen from the Centre Georges Pompidou roughly fifteen years ago was seized at the Port of Newark in December of 2014. “La Coiffeuse” (or "The Hairdresser") had been shipped by an unknown person in Belgium to Long Island City disguised as an ordinary Christmas gift with a stated value of $37. Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has filed a civil complaint to have the work forfeited and returned to France.
  • Cold as ISIS: The Arab world is reacting as ISIS publicly ransacks museums and libraries, destroying and stealing priceless cultural artifacts. In calling on the United Nations, its Security Council and "all peace-loving states" to help track down the works, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi added that all of the missing works have been marked and recorded with serial numbers. Meanwhile, Asil Nujaifi, Mosul's exiled governor, claims that many of the supposedly destroyed artifacts were were merely reproductions and that the originals had long since been moved to Baghdad. The United Nations, which passed a resolution in 2014 calling for an end to violence in Syria partly to preserve that country's cultural history and World Heritage Sites, has also condemned ISIS's actions.
  • Free Bouvier: Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier has been indicted in Monaco for fraud and complicity in money laundering in connection with overcharging high-valued artworks to his clients. He is accused of lying to his clients, including the Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, about the prices of artworks purchased. Bouvier is one of the most prominent art world’s figures, being a president and majority shareholder of Natural Le Coultre S.A., a global storage business overseeing free ports in Geneva, Luxembourg, and Singapore. 
  • Time to Pay up: On Feb. 4, the U.S, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision against the United States Postal Service that it must pay $540,000 to a sculptor Frank Gaylord, creator of The Column at the Korean War Veterans Memorial (DC), for the unauthorized reproduction of his distinctive copyrighted artwork on a postal stamp. Copyright violation dates back to 2002, when the USPS used photography of the sculptures and paid the photographer $1,500 but did not seek permission of the sculptor to create derivative works. On appeal, the Circuit Court  held that 10 percent of $5.4 million in revenue was a reasonable royalty for the USPS to pay as damages to the sculptor.

For a full listing of art law events, please visit Calendar of Events
*Mar. 12, 2015 -- Art Law Mixer (Loretta Howard Gallery, NYC, New York, NY) 6PM-8PM
The next art law mixer is dedicated to the subject of digital catalogues raisonnés. Attendees will be able to view the Richard Anuszkiewicz exhibition and meet the curators. Our guest speaker of the evening is Roger Shepherd, Creative Director at panOpticon.

*Mar. 13, 2015 -- You've Been Served: "Art and Craft" (2014) (New York University, 245 Sullivan St., Furman Hall, Room 214, NYC, New York, NY) Dinner starts at 6:30 PM, Movie starts at 7:30 PM
“But they look so good and so real…” Indeed, works created by Mark Landis looked like the real thing. Landis, one of the most prolific and now best-known art forgers in U.S. history, is the subject of a 2014 documentary. To help us make sense of what it takes to catch a fake, James Martin of Orion Lab will address the group after the viewing to discuss his practice in identifying fake art works using scientific tools. Those interested in the Knoedler Affair, will enjoy the discussion on the subject of pitfalls in art authentication. The screening will be preceded by a dinner, also at NYU.

Guest speaker: James Martin, founder of Orion Labs. His full bio can be found here

*Mar. 11, 2015 --  New Workshop on Fair Use: Guidelines and Best Practices (90 Minute Online Event) 3:30PM Eastern/2:30PM Central
Don't let restrictive guidelines stifle creativity and research in your library's community. Become informed of fair-use guidelines for libraries with this workshop by attorney and librarian—Gretchen McCord. You will learn how to empower your patrons with statements of best practices used independently and along with the fair-use guidelines.

Spread out over three two-day sessions in New York City, this unique professional training program in art-related provenance research—the first of its kind ever held in the New York market—will assist the legal community and art market professionals who have an interest in artistic, cultural, and ritual objects that have been displaced through acts of war and genocide between 1933 and 1945, with an emphasis on those items misappropriated during the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the Second World War. 

*Mar. 25-27, 2015 -- 2015 ASA Personal Property Conference: Current Issues in Determining Authenticity in Visual Art and Objects, The Catalogue Raisonné, Art Scholarship, and Value in the Marketplace (Yale Club of New York City, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, NYC, New York, NY)
This landmark three-day conference will consist of educational sessions, presentations and discussions by world renown experts, authors, art historians, private consultants and more. Topics of discussion include, art law, authentication, conservation, art scholarship and value in the markets.
NOTE: *Events are appearing in the Newsletter for the first time.
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For a full list of books and articles featured previously, please visit our  Publications page.

The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America: A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America (Dec. 12, 2014). This volume is “an excellent survey and investigation of how great Italian Renaissance paintings came to enter American collections...This will become an essential reference work for the history of collecting in this country.”—Eric M. Zafran, Wadsworth Atheneum

Molly Torsen Stech, Artists' Rights: A Guide to Copyright, Moral Rights and Other Legal Issues in the Visual Art Sphere (Jan. 6, 2015). "Artists' Rights introduces artists to legal concepts in the intellectual property space that could become important tools in managing their artworks, now and into the future."

Melanie Gerlis, Art as an Investment? (Feb. 28, 2014). "Aimed at collectors and investors, this user-friendly guide explains art's value as an asset through comparisons with more familiar investments... It offers jargon-free explanations of how the characteristics of blue-chip art can be seen to coincide with and diverge from the fundamental features of more established types of asset."
We welcome submissions of notable complaints and legal decisions.
  • Levin v. Robert Blumenthal Gallery, LLC (Sup. Ct. NY Co., complaint filed 13 Feb. 2015) -- Painter Dean Levin is suing Robert Blumenthal Gallery after the gallery failed to pay Levin all of the money due to him under a contract for a solo exhibition in May of 2014. Under the contract, the proceeds of the sales of his thirty paintings worth $215,00 were to be split equally between the parties. Levin alleges that he has not received an accounting of the sales and that he has only been paid $18,500 by the gallery. Levin is seeking damages in the amount of $191,500 plus punitive damages in an amount to be determined. DA
  • Kurtz Inv., Ltd. v. Village of Hinsdale, 1:2015-cv-01245 (N.D. Ill., 9 Feb. 2015) -- An Illinois investment firm has brought suit in federal court against its local government for classifying artwork on its property (a sculpture carved from a dead tree) as a sign and charging it with violating local zoning codes prohibiting "identification signs." The village manager denied an appeal of the charges and ordered the firm to remove the sculpture and pay fines. The Complaint seeks damages, a declaration that the ordinances violate the First Amendment and state law, and an injunction against the town's enforcement of ordinances. MK
  • The Richard Avedon Found. v. AXA Art Ins. Corp., 151435/2014 (Sup. Ct. NY Co., 4 Feb. 2015) -- On February 4th, 2015, in the ongoing insurance-related dispute involving photographer Richard Avedon’s work, Justice Joan Lobis denied Plaintiff AXA Insurance Corp.’s pre-answer-motion to dismiss the Foundation’s complaint, and ordered AXA to answer the amended petition. The preliminary discovery conference was scheduled for February 17th, 2015. JC
  • Gaylord v. United States, 2009-5044, (Fed. Cir., 4 Feb. 2015) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a decision ordering the United States Postal Service to pay Frank Gaylord $540,000 for the unauthorized reproduction of his copyrighted artwork on a postage stamp. The award is a 10% royalty on $5.4 million in revenue generated from the sale of unused stamps to collectors. Gaylord's The Column serves as the national Korean War Veterans Memorial. In 2003, a photograph of the work appeared on a postage stamp without Gaylord's permission. Gaylord had previously won royalties for other uses of the stamp. DA
  • United States v. Twenty-Nine Pre-Columbian And Colonial Artifacts From Peru, et al., 13-21697-CIV-LENARD/GOODMAN (S.D. Fla., 3 Feb. 2015) -- Accused Peruvian artifact smuggler, Combe Fritz, defendant in a forfeiture action brought by the United States, lost a pre-trial motion to block custom and border protection officers from testifying at trial. The parties asked the court to schedule the trial for March 16.  JC

Je Suis Public Domain

by Dennis C. Abrams* On January 7th in Paris, an Islamist terror attack at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie  Hebdo resulted in the deaths of twelve people. It was immediately apparent that the attacks were carried out in retaliation for the magazine’s cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Shortly after the shooting, Joachim Roncin,…Read more Je Suis Public Domain
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The European VAT: Good for Tax Revenue, Bad for the Commercial Art Market?

by Elizabeth R. Lash, Esq. As an American, one might be forgiven for assuming that Europe, with its traditional support for the arts (at least, as a cultural phenomenon), would be equally supportive in its tax regime for the same. While in some limited instances, the European Union continues to provide a more favorable regime…Read more The European VAT: Good for Tax Revenue, Bad for the Commercial Art Market?
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Lessons learned from the Sacking of the Summer Palace in China: Diplomacy and Restitution Revisited

One day two bandits entered the Summer Palace. One plundered, the other burned….Before history, one of the two bandits will be called France; the other will be called England…I hope that a day will come when France, delivered and cleansed, will return this booty to despoiled China. Meanwhile, there is a theft and two thieves.…Read more Lessons learned from the Sacking of the Summer Palace in China: Diplomacy and Restitution Revisited
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Spotlight: Arts Law Centre of Australia

by Melissa (YoungJae) Koo* From the Editors: Given that Center for Art Law has been keenly interested in the legal services available to artists not only within the United States, but also around the world, this time we would like to turn our attention to a unique organization in Australia that has been offering legal…Read more Spotlight: Arts Law Centre of Australia
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