Treating you to Art Law Blasts since 2010.
 
IDES OF MARCH
What's New:
  
Previously Smuggled Indian Antiquities Seized at Christie's: Federal agents, in conjunction with the Manhattan district attorney's office, seized two ancient sculptures that were allegedly smuggled. The antiquities were uncovered as part of Operation Hidden Idol, the investigation that also identified Subhash Kapoor, who currently awaits trial in India.

Trial Begins in Timbuktu Cultural Destruction Case in The Hague's International Criminal Court: The first case of its kind has begun at The Hague, where former teacher Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is charged with destroying nine mausoleums and the 15th-century Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu in northern Mali. This is the first time the court is dealing with the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime.

Trial Date Set for Restitution Claim Against Norton Simon Museum: On March 29, 2016 the trial will commence to decide the fate of a pair of paintings whose ownership is currently the subject of an ongoing dispute between the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California and the family of its original owner. Marei Von Saher, the heir of Holocaust victim Jacques Goustikker, claims the paintings, Adam and Eve from 1530 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, were never properly restituted to the family after German Nazi Hermann Goering took the paintings in a forced sale of Goudstikker’s collection in 1940. The founder of the museum, Norton Simon, purchased the paintings in 1971. During the period between World War II and Simon's purchase, the paintings had two different owners. Von Saher filed the lawsuit in 2007 for the return of the works as stolen property. The pair of paintings were appraised at $24 million in 2006.

Attorney General of California Files an Amicus Brief in Restitution Case: Kamala Harris, the AG of California, has weighed in on a looted art case. She urges the federal appeals court to reverse a lower court decision and reinstate a case brought by the San Diego heirs of a Jewish art collector who was forced to give up a Pissarro currently valued at $20 million in exchange for a visa to escape Nazi Germany shortly before World War II. The painting is currently at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation Museum in Madrid, Spain. In June, a judge ruled that the museum is the rightful owner of the painting, not the heirs of Holocaust survivor Lilly Cassirer, triggering the most recent appeal.

University of Oklahoma Agrees to Restitute Painting: The University of Oklahoma has agreed to return a painting that was stolen by the Nazis from a French family during World War II. Camille Pissarro's 1886 "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep" will be transferred to Léone Meyer, a French Holocaust survivor whose father owned the painting when it was stolen. The painting will be be transferred to a museum in France for a period of five years. After that point, it will rotate between museums in Oklahoma and France bearing a label that explains the painting's history, including its seizure by the Nazis and restitution in court.

Flechtheim Heirs Suspend Limbach Commission Proceedings Over Juan Gris Painting in Düsseldorf: The heirs of persecuted Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim suspended the state-run non-binding mediation process concerning Violon en encrier (1913) by Juan Gris in the Stiftung Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen (Art Collections Foundation of Northern Rhineland/Westphalia) in Düsseldorf due to concerns about the fairness of the proceedings. The painting was sold in 1934 in London, and Flechtheim’s heirs have argued that this sale was the result of his persecution. The museum bought the work on the international market in 1964.

Art Thief Returns Stolen Painting with an Apology Letter: An oil painting that was stolen from a Kansas City library last October was returned in the mail with a remorseful note after a local news source released CCTV footage of the theft.
 
New York City Conducts Survey on Diversity in the Cultural Workforce: The City released the results of this survey, which focused on gender and race/ethnicity and provided information on the steps the city is taking to increase diversity in this field.

Federal Prosecutors Investigating Yves Bouvier: According to an article published by Bloomberg Business, U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating a series of art transactions between Bouvier and Dmitry Rybolovlev, including the transaction resulting in Rybolovlev's acquisition of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi." Rybolovlev alleges that Bouvier marked up the prices of paintings he helped Rybolovlev acquire and pocketed the difference.
Upcoming Events
 

The new year brings many exciting art law events! To help you plan your art law calendar, check out the full listing of and upcoming events on our radar.


*March 23, 2016 -- You've Been Served: "Herb & Dorothy" (Cardozo Law School, New York, NY) 6:30PM - 9:30PM

Join Center for Art Law for dinner, a movie, and an attorney-led discussion on the trusts & estates issues involved in museum donations.

March 26-27, 2016 -- LCCHP (Fordham University, New York, NY) 8:30AM - 6:00PM

Join the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation and Fordham Law School for LCCHP's seventh annual conference. Conflict-related destruction of cultural heritage and digital heritage are amongst this year's topics.
more here...
 
April 6-8, 2016 -- American Law Institute LIMA (Hollywood, CA)

This annual event is THE conference on the legal aspects of museum administration. 2016 program highlights include:
  • Keynote address by Dr. James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust; current copyright issues by David Nimmer, the nation’s foremost copyright law expert
  • Guidance on publicity and privacy rights in museum collections; practical sessions on hot topics:  cybersecurity, diversity, mobile technologies

*April 7, 2016 -- Symposium on Representing Creative Clients (Miami, FL)

The University of Miami School of Law Entertainment and Sports Law Society and the Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries from the American Bar Association Present an International Legal Symposium on the World of Music, Art, Film, Television and Sports to focus on representing creative artists in the areas of Literature, Theater, Art & Design, Film, Music, Technology and New Media.

*Sept. 19, 2016 -- Christie's Art, Law and Business courses begin (New York, NY)

Christie's Education has launched a new, 15-month Master's degree program in Art, Law and Business. Candidates for the new Master’s program are expected to come from legal and wealth management backgrounds, as well as from art history and commercial art backgrounds. Upon graduation, students are prepared for roles in auction houses, galleries, art fairs, museums, and cultural institutions, in positions focused on sales, business management, business intelligence and strategy, client services, and marketing.

NOTE: These  events are appearing in the Newsletter for the first time.
 
 


Dinner, Movie and Special Features: Attorney-lead discussions

You've Been Served:
Herb & Dorothy


March 23, 2016 (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, NY)
RSVP 


Attorneys to speak after the film TBD!



 
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  • USA v. Roohparvar, No. 3:16-cr-00096-CRB (N.D. Cal. Mar. 8, 2016). -- A Saratoga resident, Shahram "Ron" Roohparvar, has been charged with illegally selling art pieces constructed from elephant ivory (a practice banned since 1976). This is not Roohparvar's first rodeo with the law; in the past he has faced other federal criminal charges for money laundering.
  • Sotheby's, Inc. v. Mao et al., 652283/2015 (NY Sup. Jun. 25, 2015). -- Sotheby's is suing Christophe Mao and the gallery he owns, Chambers Fine Art LLC. Mao has failed to pay over $2.1 million that he borrowed from Sotheby's after signing a Secured Revolving Loan and Sale Agreement. 
  • Max v. Moskowitz et. al., No. 162953/2015 (NY Sup. Dec. 22, 2015). --  Mary Max, wife of artist Peter Max, filed suit against his agent, ALP, Inc. (a company that runs the NJ warehouse where Ms. Max claims she stored her paintings), and two of Peter Max's children for stealing 82 paintings. The paintings were stored in a warehouse and Ms. Max claims they are worth more than $4.2 million. The family has recently been embroiled in a public scandal covered in New York tabloids.
  • Fisher v. Petr Konchalovsky Foundation et al., No. 1:15-CV-09831 (SDNY Dec. 17, 2015) -- Richard Fisher of Malibu is suing the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation, saying that when he bought the oil painting “Still Life with Grinder” in 1991 from Sotheby’s, the organization declared it an authentic work by Konchalovsky, a Russian artist. In 2012, Fisher decided to sell the work and asked Sotheby’s in New York to auction it, but the foundation claimed it wasn’t authentic. The Moscow-based foundation did not examine the work, dated 1920, and instead relied on photos, Fisher alleges.
  • Sam Francis Foundation v. Christie's, Inc. (9th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 795 (Jan. 11, 2016) -- The Supreme Court has declined to hear artists' resale royalty suit against auction houses like Christie's, Sotheby's and eBay. Artists like Chuck Close argue these auction houses are failing to pay royalties, which they claim is in direct violation of the California Resale Royalties Act of 1976. New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is the lead proponent of the ART Act, which will directly address the royalty issues if passed by Congress.
  • Mlinar v. United Parcel Service Inc. et al., No. SC14-54 (Fla. 2016) -- The Supreme Court of Florida recently reinstated an art theft lawsuit between artist Ivana Vidovic Mlinar and three defendants - Pak Mail, a South Florida packing store, the United Parcel Service Co. (UPS), and Cargo Largo, UPS’s lost goods contractor. The suit alleges that these parties stole Mlinar’s work, profited from the theft of her paintings, used her name or likeness without Mlinar’s authorization, and, finally, that the defendants violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
2016 INTERDISCIPLINARY ART CRIME CONFERENCE IN ITALY

The Association for Research into Crimes against Art  (ARCA) will host its 8th annual interdisciplinary Art Crime conference in Amelia, Italy on June 24-26, 2016. 

CALL for PAPERS

Headlines
 
Excerpts:

Case Preview: Andy Warhol Foundation v. Bugarin

By Jessica Preis*   In 2014, Agusto Bugarin, a one-time associate of Andy Warhol (b. 1928- d. 1987) found himself accused of stealing various Warhol works, including the extremely valuable piece entitled, Liz (the “Work”), portraying the actress, beauty icon, and business woman Elizabeth Taylor. What was Bugarin’s relationship with the artist and how did…Read more Case Preview: Andy Warhol Foundation v. Bugarin
Read on »

Case Review: Christie’s v. Jombihis

By David Honig, Esq.* What happens when you place a multi-million dollar winning bid on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting on behalf of a client, and your principle (a.k.a. the client) has a change of heart about purchasing the work? This is the situation in which famed New York art dealer Jose Mugrabi recently found himself.…Read more Case Review: Christie’s v. Jombihis
Read on »

WYWH: You’ve Been Served – “Gerhard Richter Painting” and German Cultural Heritage Protection Law

By Elizabeth Weber, Esq.* On February 3, 2016, the “You’ve Been Served” dinner and a movie event was hosted by the Brooklyn Law School Art Law Association. Attendees included attorneys, artists, art dealers, and students. The film screened, Gerhard Richter Painting, is a documentary that provides a glimpse, deliberately and slowly, into the life and…Read more WYWH: You’ve Been Served – “Gerhard Richter Painting” and German Cultural Heritage Protection Law
Read on »

Is it a Crime? The Empty Defendant’s Chair at the Knoedler Civil Trial

By Jessica Preis* On February 10, 2016, the highly watched case, De Sole v. Knoedler Gallery, LLC, settled out of court. The events leading to the settlement date back either to 2004 when Eleanore and Domenico De Sole purchased a forged painting attributed to Mark Rothko from Knoedler Gallery (the “Gallery”), or to 1990s when Glafira…Read more Is it a Crime? The Empty Defendant’s Chair at the Knoedler Civil Trial
Read on »

Case Review: Rauschenberg Estate Saga of Trust and Fees Explained, Again

  By Samantha Elie* As the Center for Art Law already reported in Rauschenberg Estate Saga of Trust and Fees Explained, the three trustees of a revocable trust that named the Rauschenberg Foundation as the sole remainder beneficiary became entangled in litigation with the Foundation. Following a Petition by the Foundation to determine trustee’s fees…Read more Case Review: Rauschenberg Estate Saga of Trust and Fees Explained, Again
Read on »

WYWH: Knoedler Trial Cut Short (Week 3)

By Center for Art Law Team* The disappointment of the De Soles’ settling their case against Ann Freedman on Sunday night (February 7, 2016), paled in comparison with the disappointment of the remaining defendants, Knoedler and 8-31 Holdings, settling with the De Soles on Tuesday afternoon, two days later. Though the settlement seemed like a…Read more WYWH: Knoedler Trial Cut Short (Week 3)
Read on »

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