Your Browser Does Not Support JavaScript. Please Update Your Browser and reload page. Have a nice day! From the January 2022 Newsletter - Center for Art Law

Spencer Elden v. Nirvana, L.L.C., et al., No. 2:21-cv-06836 (C.D Cal. 2021) (Jan. 3, 2022) 

The plaintiff, Spencer Elden, earlier sued the band Nirvana, for use of Elden’s baby photo for their album cover. Elden argued that it constituted commercial child sexual exploitation. The judge, Fernando Olguin, dismissed the case on something of a technicality: Elden’s legal team had failed to meet a deadline to respond to Nirvana’s motion to dismiss. But Olguin extended the deadline to January 13, 2022, to refile the motion. Nirvana’s team, meanwhile, retains their position that the suit has no merit. Read the order here.

Anonymous 1 v. Anonymous 3, Slip Op 51078 (U) [68 Misc. 3d 1226 (A)] (N.Y Aug. 7, 2020) 

Libra Max previously sued Barbara Lissner to end guardianship of her father, Peter Max, an iconic psychedelic artist of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Peter has been under guardianship since December 2016. All his affairs, whether personal, financial, or legal, are controlled by “court appointed strangers.” Lissner has now sued back, alleging that Libra Max’s legal and public relations campaign defamed her. Read the opinion here.

Fenwick v. Sotheby’s, No. 2:21-cv-11987 (D.N.J May, 2021)

The lawsuit alleges that Sotheby’s denied full time employees their benefits by misidentifying them as freelancers; additionally, Fenwick, a former employee, is claiming that Sotheby’s didn’t pay him in a timely manner and that the auction house violated the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. The legal team for Sotheby’s filed a motion to dismiss the case in November 2021, claiming that it was “so devoid of factual allegations…it was difficult (if not impossible) to discern.” Read the complaint and motion to dismiss here.

Michael Xufu Huang v. Federico Castro Debernardi, No. 005156-CA-01 (M.D Mar. 3, 2021) 

In a lawsuit filed in March 2021 in a Miami-Dade County circuit court, collector Michael Xufu Huang alleged that collector Federico Castro Debernardi violated the terms of a sales agreement involving the sale of a $700,000 Cecily Brown painting. Huang was seeking $1.3 million in “reputational damages” from Debernardi. The case has now been settled out of court. Access a copy of the lawsuit here.


UK | R v. Graham et. al., Bristol’s Magistrate Court (Jan. 5, 2022). The ‘Colston Four,’ a group of activists, who toppled a statue of a 17th-century slave trader, Edward Colston in the U.K, have been cleared of criminal charges. Public support for the statue’s removal was a key element in the defense’s case. Lawyers argued the statue was offensive and needed to go, and that the Colston Four had not committed a criminal offense by taking the matter into their own hands. Banksy helped fundraise for the activists’ legal defense and after a two-week trial, a jury found them not guilty of causing criminal damage. Bail was granted and they are next due to appear at Bristol Crown Court on 8 February. Read more here.