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Art Law Blast [10.19.2017]

Fall Into Art Law

To help you plan your art law calendar, check out the full listing of and upcoming events on our radar.
Oct. 20, 2017 -- NYCLA's Art Law Committee Fall Meeting: The Artist's Museum: Whitney's New Building and Return to its Downtown Beginnings (NYC, NY) 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Whitney Museum's General Counsel, Nicholas Holmes will speak about legal issues related to planning for and building the new museum. Note that this program has limited capacity; registration will be limited to the first 20 RSVPs, but a wait list will be maintained and you will be contacted in the event of seating availability due to the cancellation of another registrant.
Oct. 25, 2017 -- You've Been Served: "The Rape of Europa" Screening & Discussion (Brooklyn, NY) 6 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Join us for the screening of "The Rape of Europa," a documentary about Nazi-era looted art and various efforts made on behalf of some survivors and heirs to recover their displaced property. The film is based on the award-winning and ground-breaking monograph of Lynn H. Nicholas. Guest speakers will include Anna Rubin, Director of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office, and Lucille A. Roussin, art historian, attorney and founder of the Holocaust Restitution Practicum.
Oct. 27, 2017 -- VARA’s Moral Rights Experiment: Examining the History, Caselaw and Policies Underlying the Visual Artists Rights Act (The Princeton Club, NYC, NY) 12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Three panelists, Amy Adler, Irina Tarsis, and Daniel Weiner, will explore the history of VARA, review key cases, and examine the policies underlying the statute and artists’ moral rights, both pro and con.
Nov. 1, 2017 -- Special Studio Visit with Mahmoud Hamadani (NYC, NY) 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Many topics fall under the umbrella of international art law. This is the third artist studio visit sponsored by the NYSBA's EASL Section which allows artists and attorneys to engage in a dialogue. This event will focus on the themes of international art loans, regulations and agreements.

Nov. 2, 2017 -- Off the Wall: Legal Issues Involving Street Art (NYC, NY) 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Art law ain't cheap. At this program panelists will cover some of the hot button legal issues affecting the art world today, and this year’s program will center around the legal issues involving street art.  They may touch upon the 5Pointz case too. This program is intended for those who practice art law, litigation, copyright, and trademark law, as well as those with clients in the art, fashion, advertising, and real estate industries. CLE available.

Live Program:  $199 Member | $299 Nonmember;  Small Law Firm: $99 Member

Nov. 10 2017 -- Appraisers Association of America: Art Law Day (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, NYC, NY)

Last year there were three art law conferences in November but this year, there seems to be only one, so do not miss this opportunity to learn about estate planning for artists, the valuation of multiples and editions, business and legal ethics in art transactions, and due diligence in maintaining confidential information. CLE available.

NOTE:  Be sure to check out our calendar for more events!
What's New:
Welcome (Back): Last month, Center for Art Law welcomed two new team members Laura B. Richardson (NYU LLM Candidate 2018) and Jason P. Barnes (Columbia U. JD Candidate 2018), as our Fall 2017 postgraduate fellow and legal intern respectively.

Brooklyn's Got Art Law:
J. Block, who in 2013 denied the injunction to prevent the “graffiti Mecca” from being demolished, is again hearing arguments over artists' rights and 5Pointz, in the case COHEN ET AL V. G&M REALTY L.P. ET AL. Starting this week 21 artist-plaintiffs will be arguing that their moral rights under U.S. Copyright Act by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990 were violated when the real estate owner whitewashed their art and thus they are entitled to compensation (either statutory or actual damages). As the Judge keeps saying, this is an odd ball cup of tea and for aspiring/practicing art lawyers a spectacle not to be missed.

Au Revoir, UNESCO: As a political statement (or a cost cutting measure), the State Department announced that the United States will withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, with some dues unpaid (nearly $500 million), citing anti-Israeli bias as impetus for the departure (sometime in 2018). The outgoing Director General Irina Bokova voiced profound regret over this momentous decision and whereas the State Department intends to remain involved as a nonmember observer state, UNESCO intends to proceed with its mission under the new leadership of Audrey Azoulay, the former French Minister of Culture.

Bull’s Head Off to Lebanon:  After the Metropolitan Museum of Art turned over to prosecutors a Bull’s head that was on loan due to concerns that the antiquity was looted from a Lebanese storage area in the 1980s during Lebanon’s civil war, the New York Supreme Court authorized the sculpture's return to its country of origin.

An Antebellum Period, but to Whom?  In the aftermath of Charlottesville and other cities witnessing clashes over the future of Confederate statuary, New York City, is debating what to do with statutes of and streets named after Confederate Generals.  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a 90-day review of the issue. 

Making the News for Wrong Reasons: In November 2017, Sotheby's is poised to sell 40 artworks from the Berkshire Museum. Decedents of Norman Rockwell notified the Mass. Attorney General objecting to the upcoming sale and while there is no overt legal action, attorneys are opining on the rights and wrongs of museum deaccessioning art. 
NYCLA Art Law Committee is kindly inviting the Center for Art Law members:

The Artist's Museum:
Whitney's New Building and Return to its Downtown Beginnings

Nicholas Holmes, General Counsel
Whitney Museum of American Art

Friday, October 20, 2017
Whitney Museum of American Art
Third Floor Seminar Room
Topics will include:
  • legal issues related to planning for and building the new museum, including with respect to real estateconstructioninsurance and fundraising
  • breakdown of substantive day-to-day workload for the General Counsel of a major institution, including exhibition issuesacquisitionssponsorships and copyright
Admission to the museum will be waived, but donations are encouraged. Please RSVP to  Note that this program has limited capacity.
Is Case Law Corner your favorite section of the Center for Art Law's newsletter?
Don't wait for our next email to get your fix. Read more case law now!


Apperson v. City of St. Louis, Case No. 17-cv-2461, (E. D. Missouri, Sep. 22, 2017). This fall, MacArthur Justice Center filed a lawsuit alleging that St. Louis officials are improperly arresting, jailing, and prosecuting protesters. The suit claims that the arrests violate First Amendment rights of free speech, that the detentions violate the Fourth and Eighth Amendments, and a general due process violation.  The suit also brings analogous state-law claims. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction against the continuance of these alleged practices.  The ACLU filed a parallel lawsuit against alleged police misconduct:  using chemical weapons, interfering with video of police activity and violating due process). (JB)

Sotheby’s v. Nature Morte LLC and Anatole Shagalov, 655636/2017 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. 2017,  Aug. 31, 2017). Sotheby’s filed a complaint in New York State Court seeking to recover $ 6 million dollars from a winning bidder of an artwork at a recent Sotheby’s auction. Anatole Shagalov signed a personal guarantee obligating him to an immediate payment for any piece of artwork that Nature Morte LLC placed the highest bid on at Sotheby’s auction. Nature Morte placed the winning bid of $ 6 million dollars, but allegedly failed to pay for the artwork. Sotheby’s seeks to recover the $6 million dollars plus interest and fees from Nature Morte LLC and Anatole Shagalov arising out of the breach of the personal guarantee.  The Answer was filed on October 11. (JB)

Bouvier v. Adelson, cv 16-3655, (2d Cir. 2017 Aug. 28, 2017 ) - On August, 28, 2017, a panel for the Second Circuit held that section 1782 discovery is available for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal even when the applicant is not making a claim for damages.  The court also held that once an applicant has obtained discovery under Section 1782 for one foreign proceeding, the applicant may use that discovery in other foreign proceedings.  The case arose out of the ongoing dispute between Russian Oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev and Swiss art dealer, Yves Bouvier. (JB)

Thome v. The Alexander & Louisa Calder Found'n, 152721/2017 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Aug. 22, 2017) - Joel Thome, owner of a theatrical stage set that is allegedly the last artwork by Alexander Calder, filed a new lawsuit against the Calder foundation, seeing $2 million dollars in damages, based in three causes of action:  (1) tortious interference, (2) interference with prospective advantage, (3) product disparagement. (JB)

Aboutaam v. Dow Jones & Co., (Supreme Court of the State of New York) On July 17, 2017, Hicham Aboutaam, filed a Libel suit against the Wall Street Journal for an article that reported that countries were investigating him for allegedly trafficking in artifacts looted by ISIS.  (JB)

Moi v. Chihuly Studio, Inc., 17-2-14150-0 SEA, (Sup. Ct. WA, King County, Jun. 17, 2017) While Chihuly's glass sculptures are on display at the NY Botanical Garden, Michael Moi sued his former employer, Chihuly Studio, seeking a declaratory judgment of co-authorship and co-ownership of some of the paintings produced by Dale Chihuly. Other causes of action are accounting of revenue and imposition of constructive trust, as well as an injunctive relief under VARA.  (JB)


Weber v. Haerle, [Switzerland, 2017], Ger., Heidi Weber, long-time friend and collaborator of Le Corbusier, is suing Peter Haerle, the culture director of Zurich, for defamation. In 1964, Weber assisted Le Corbusier in the co-founding of his lakefront museum in Zurich. The construction permit the two obtained required that 50 years later, the property must be turned over to the city of Zurich. Just two years past the expiration of the original building permit, the city changed the name of the institution from the Centre Le Corbusier Heidi Weber Museum to Pavillon Le Corbusier. Weber and her son have spoken out on the grave injustice they believe is being perpetuated by the local government. Weber is so enraged that she removed her collection of Le Corbusier artifacts that she had loaned to the city. On July 5th, the Court authorized the case to proceed.  (WR) (updated w/ cases JB)

[Simon de Pury v. Ruedi Staechlin, High Court, UK, 2017], Eng., recorded as the most expensive work of art ever sold, Paul Gauguin’s "Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)" (1892) was actually sold for $210 million, placing it behind de Kooning’s "Interchanged" (1955) and Cezanne’s "The Card Players" (1890-5) as the third most expensive artwork ever known to be sold. This revelation came to light on June 29th, at the United Kingdom High Court when Simon de Pury sued to collect a hefty commission--$10 million--he argues is owed to him and his wife Michaela under a “gentleman’s agreement.” De Pury claims he and Michaela acted as middlemen in negotiating the sale of the painting from childhood friend Ruedi Staechlin to the Emir of Qatar. The de Purys and Staechlin argue conflicting accounts of the nature of Simon and Michaela’s involvement in this transaction. Staechlin’s attorney alleges that the de Purys engaged in a breach of fiduciary duty by misrepresenting prices and “pestering” Mr. Staechlin, which de Pury denies. (WR/JB)

[T. v. T., v. 6 Ob 145/16s, Austria, 2017] On June 27th, the Regional Court for Civil Law in Vienna found the 2012 contracts establishing the Franz West Private Foundation—initiated by those non-family members with a financial stake in West’s sales and signed by West on his deathbed—to be improperly executed and incapable of being upheld. The Foundation alleged that it was the rightful owner of West’s assets and royalties, rather than his now-deceased wife and their two children. The Court’s argument turned on the finding that the Foundation’s paperwork was so sloppily drafted that material elements of the agreement—including a formal acceptance—were absent. In line with the Court’s ruling, the remaining unsold artwork will now be given to West’s children and their guardian… so long as the Foundation does not appeal the Court’s decision. (WR/JB)

Recent Articles:

Vagaries of Valuation for Collections of Artwork

By Elizabeth Summers* For better or for worse, the world cares how much collectors pay for art. A record price realized at auction or in a “private” sale can create headlines in both art world publications and the national press. The final value of a collection, however, is determined only upon the collector’s death, when…Read more Vagaries of Valuation for Collections of Artwork Read in browser »

Giacometti: a Foundation, an Association, and a Catalogue Raisonné

By Colby Meagle* Renowned Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti passed away in 1966. Although he died childless, his legacy lives on as his works continue to grow in value and prestige across the world, strengthening his reputation as a prolific artist. One of the staples for retaining a robust art market for works posthumously…Read more Giacometti: a Foundation, an Association, and a Catalogue Raisonné Read in browser »

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