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What's New:
  • Bid drops Hammer on critics: Indian auction house Bid and Hammer has filed a criminal defamation case against a Delhi art gallery in response to social media statements accusing them of selling fake artwork at their 2014 "Significant Indian Art" auction in Delhi. B and H executives emphasized that the house has always done its due diligence, has never had to withdraw any works from its auctions and that none of their critics have inspected their provenance documents or addressed concerns to B and H directly.
  • Electrician gets shocking sentence: Despite failing to address the issue of who stole the 271 Picasso works brought to light by the artist's former electrician, a verdict from a French court gave two-year suspended sentences to the electrician, Pierre Le Guennec, and Pierre’s wife, Danielle, for possession of stolen property. The court was unconvinced by Le Guennec’s argument that Picasso’s wife gave him the works as a gift and that he had forgotten about them until 2009 when he came forward to have them authenticated.
  • Germany, Cyprus talk turkey in Dikmen case: Eighteen years after being recovered from a Munich apartment, the final 34 of the total 207 works seized from Turkish smuggler Aydin Dikmen will finally be repatriated to Cyprus. These relics taken from various sites in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island are of significant historic, religious and artistic value. Although a German court ordered some 49 works returned to Dikmen because of inadequate documentation, Cyprus will instead sell these pieces at auction, partly to cover Dikmen’s more than €500,000 in legal fees.
  • SCOTUS won't hear Salander-O'Reilly case: On March 23, the Supreme Court denied Renaissance Art Investors' petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court to compel a New York federal court to clarify or enforce an earlier order dismissing RAI's claim seeking to recover $21.6 million from insurer AXA Art related to the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries scandal. RAI entrusted Salander with $42 million in artworks in the 1990s. In 2007, Salander pled guilty to 29 felonies for a decade-long pattern of fraud and will serve up to 18 years in prison. RAI's case has been ongoing since roughly that time.

For a full listing of art law events, please visit Calendar of Events

*Apr. 13, 2015 -- You've Been Served: "Woman in Gold" (2015)
Join us for our next “You’ve Been Served” event on Monday April 13 when we head to "The Paris Theater" for a screening of the long-anticipated dramatization of the protracted legal battle waged by Holocaust survivor Maria Altmann to recover "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" (1907) from the Republic of Austria roughly 60 years after the Nazis seized the painting from her family during their takeover of the country. The film stars Helen Mirren as Altmann, Ryan Reynolds as her young lawyer and Daniel Brühl as Austrian journalist Hubertus Czernin. 

Our special guests this evening include Lucille Roussin, Esq, Marc Masurovsky, and Pierre Ciric.
*Apr. 16, 2015 -- Art Law Mixer (Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY) 7PM-9PM
The next art law mixer will be held on April 16th at Louis K. Meisel Gallery in Lower Manhattan. The the topic of the event and the identity of the guest speakers are still yet to be determined.
*Apr. 3-20, 2015 --  "Hang the Lawyers," Washington ArtWorks (Washington, D.C.) Opening Reception: April 10th, 6PM-9PM
On Friday, April 10th, 2015, Washington ArtWorks will host the reception for “Hang the Lawyers”, a juried gallery exhibition in both of Washington ArtWorks’ galleries to showcase artwork created by attorneys. Photography, painting, sculpture, mixed media and more will be considered for this exhibition. Entries will be accepted from practicing and retired attorneys as well as law school students. “Hang the Lawyers” will be juried by Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Board President, John Mason and Washington ArtWorks CEO, Missy Loewe.

*Apr. 20, 2015 --  Collaborations and Joint Authorship Agreements class (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, 1 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022) 
This class will teach artists how to protect their own interests when entering into a collaboration or joint authorship agreement. We will address the common pitfalls of collaborative creativity, drafting tips, and how to deal with collaborative relationships that have gone sour. 

*Apr. 29, 2015 -- Alive With Art - A Benefit to Support the Arts in Brooklyn (26 Bridge Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201) 6:30PM-9:30PM
This event supports Brooklyn Arts Council which works to ensure that all Brooklyn residents have access to affordable arts experiences. This year's honorees are visual artist Cey Adams, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Pressman and longtime BAC President Ella J. Weiss. Tickets start at $300.
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.
  • Adrian Clark & Jeremy Dronfield, "Queer Saint: The Cultured Life of Peter Watson" (Apr. 2, 2015). The first ever biography of Peter Watson, one of the wealthiest and most influential art patrons of the 1940s and 1950s, follows the connoisseur from his obscure family origins, to his odyssey through high society and the sweaty underworld, to his premature death.
  • Huan Hsu, “The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China” (Mar. 24, 2015). When author Huan Hsu journeys to southeast China to recover his grandfather's porcelain heirlooms rumored to have been buried during World War II, he unearths many other interesting stories which turn out to comprise the focus of his book, including his discovery of the efficiency with which the Chinese produce fraudulent artifacts.
We welcome submissions of notable complaints and legal decisions.
  • Hashiguchi v. Bischof & Bischof PLLC, 2015 WL 1156767, (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Mar. 16, 2015) -- Masahiro Hashiguchi, the executor of the estate of the late art collector Robert Ellsworth, has filed suit in state court in New York against the attorney (and the attorney's law firm) who drafted the deceased's will, alleging that the defendants did so negligently, resulting in the estate being taxed for $25 million. If the will were drafted with the requisite care, Hashiguchi alleges, the tax could have been deducted. DCA
  • Keck v. FX Networks, 2015 WL 1204829 (S.D.N.Y. March 17, 2015) -- Indiana painter Leah Michelle Keck has filed suit against FX and 20th Century Fox in the Southern District of New York alleging three of her paintings were copied and used in FX's animated show "Archer." The paintings appear in the background on an office wall as part of the show's set design. Keck is seeking up to $150,000 in damages for the alleged copyright infringement. DCA
  • Meyer v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Okla., 2015 U.S. App. (2d Cir., Mar. 12, 2015) -- On March 12, 2015 in Manhattan, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered a lower court judge to rule on whether a lawsuit she dismissed, involving an alleged Holocaust era looted work currently located in Oklahoma, should be transferred to Oklahoma for further process. JC
  • McKenzie v. Fishko, 2015 WL 685927 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 13, 2015) -- The Southern District of New York recently struck down all of Connecticut financial executive Richard McKenzie's claims against Manhattan's Forum Gallery and its proprietor, Richard Fishko. McKenzie alleged that Fishko defrauded him into buying $570,000 worth of fake art for his foundation which seeks to inspire fledgling artists partly by displaying works by famous artists. The court ruled against his claims for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, saying that McKenzie did not nearly meet the "clear and convincing" standard required to show fraud. DCA

Artists, Not Judges, Should Decide Fair Use: Select Implications of the Cariou-Sconnie Nation Deviation

by Sekou Campbell, Esq.* This piece will focus on two implications of the Cariou and Sconnie Nation analyses: (1) the inherently factual nature of “fair use” analysis and (2) fair use as an affirmative defense. “Fair use” started as a judge-made remedy to technically correct legal conclusions that led to absurd results, a practice commonly…Read more Artists, Not Judges, Should Decide Fair Use: Select Implications of the Cariou-Sconnie Nation Deviation
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Help Wanted: Miami’s Alarming Number of Directorship Successions

by Emily Behzadi* With the musical chairs of museum and auction house directors moving from one institution to another, series of announcements about Miami art museums losing their directors in quick succession seems distressing. How important is it to have a director and how long can an institution survive with an interim leader at the helm?…Read more Help Wanted: Miami’s Alarming Number of Directorship Successions
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You’ve Been Served: “Art and Craft”

by Dennis C. Abrams* On the night of Friday, March 13 at New York University School of Law in Lower Manhattan, Center for Art Law held the most recent installment in its “You’ve Been Served” series of dinners and movies. At the event, co-hosted by NYU’s Art Law Society, a modest crowd gathered to share…Read more You’ve Been Served: “Art and Craft”
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Wish You Were Here: Sotheby’s Institute of Art (CA) Conference, January 2015

by Jessica Newman* On January 30 and 31, the Sotheby’s Institute of Art gathered attorneys and art professionals together in Los Angeles, California for their Art Law Conference entitled “The Practice of Law in the International Art World.” The two-day expansive agenda featured twelve modules and nearly forty speakers, including artist Shepard Fairey giving an…Read more Wish You Were Here: Sotheby’s Institute of Art (CA) Conference, January 2015
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How do you solve a problem like Gurlitt?

By Irina Tarsis* As Hollywood is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “The Sound of Music,” set in Salzburg, Austria and the public release of “Woman in Gold,” a film based on successful legal actions to recover Nazi-looted art scheduled for release April 1, 2015, the Gurlitt saga continues to permeate the media and the legal scene. The…Read more How do you solve a problem like Gurlitt?
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Restitution, Repatriation and Return: When Objects Go Back; (Part 2 of 5) Restitution of Cultural Objects Taken During World War II

By Kevin P. Ray, first posted on Greenberg Traurig’s art law blog Cultural Assets on March 20, 2015. This article is the second in a five-part series discussing the restitution, repatriation, and return of cultural objects. Each part addresses a different category of return. The first article in the series available here, addressed the restitution of…Read more Restitution, Repatriation and Return: When Objects Go Back; (Part 2 of 5) Restitution of Cultural Objects Taken During World War II
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Attacks Against Cultural Heritage Abroad Raise Questions at Home

by Melissa (YoungJae) Koo* Just about a month after the attack at Charlie Hebdo journal and a deadly shooting at a kosher supermarket in Paris, five teenagers are detained in France for desecrating as many as 250 gravestones in a cemetery in a rural town in eastern France, where many Jews are buried. This incident again…Read more Attacks Against Cultural Heritage Abroad Raise Questions at Home
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Restitution, Repatriation and Return: When Objects Go Back; (PART 1 of 5) Restitution of Stolen Cultural Objects

By Kevin P. Ray, first posted on Greenberg Traurig’s art law blog Cultural Assets on February 25, 2015. An important and frequently misunderstood development in the law of art and cultural property in recent decades has been the elaboration in national laws, international instruments, and customary international law of the rights of individuals, groups, nations or other…Read more Restitution, Repatriation and Return: When Objects Go Back; (PART 1 of 5) Restitution of Stolen Cultural Objects
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God Made Idiots: The Vandalism and Theft of Public Art

by Kristen Pionati “In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.” –Mark Twain In his 1897 book Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World, Mark Twain (born 1835, died 1910) wrote that “In the first place, God made idiots.” Even today education and upbringing continues to escape…Read more God Made Idiots: The Vandalism and Theft of Public Art
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