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Art Works, Inc. v. Al-Hadid, 2022 NY Slip Op 31522 – NY: Supreme Court 2022 The New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Diana Al-Hadid in her legal battle against gallery owner Marianne Boesky. The complaint orbited a single unnamed bronze sculpture and who owned it. According to Boesky, when Al-Hadid left the gallery in 2019, she owed a six-figure sum. The gallery and the artist entered into a settlement agreement however the dispute in question arose because ownership of the statue in question could not be decided. The gallery’s claim to ownership was based on a contract that Judge Louis L. Nock considered “ambiguous,” and “[did] not confer ownership to…[Boesky].” Read the Decision HERE

Davis v. Pinterest, Inc., No. 19-cv-07650-HSG (TSH) (N.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2021). A federal judge in the Northern District of California has ruled in favor of Pinterest in a lawsuit brought by a New Jersey photographer. Harold Davis sued the social media company alleging that Pinterest infringed over fifty of his copyrighted works by displaying the images alongside advertisements without permission. Davis argues that use of his images amounts to unauthorized commercial use of his work. However, Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr., granted summary judgment in favor of Pinterest, reasoning that the social media platform is protected by safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Read the Decision HERE. 

Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, 11 F.4th 26 (2d Cir. 2021). The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against precedent in a legal battle between the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) and Lynn Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s management company licensed a photograph of the singer Prince to Vanity Fair to be reproduced by an artist for their issue on the singer. Vanity Fair chose Andy Warhol. Warhol created numerous images though the license only permitted one. In 2016 when Prince died, Vanity Fair reprinted one of the several images from the series giving Goldsmith notice that multiple unlicensed copies of her image had been made. AWF filed for declaratory judgment in District Court, arguing that there was no infringement of Goldsmith’s copyright because of the fair use doctrine. The District Court Ruled in AWF’s favor, but the Court of Appeals sided with Goldsmith overturning the trial court decision.  Read the Decision HERE

De Fontbrune v. Wofsy, 39 F.4th 1214, 1236 (9th Cir. July 13, 2022) The Ninth Circuit ruled in the twelve-year battle between plaintiffs, representing the estate of Yves Sicre de Fontbrune, and defendants, Alan Wolfsy and Alan Wolfsy and Associates, over the use of 16,000 photographs of Picasso’s works. Between 1932 and 1970, Christian Zervos, Picasso’s friend, took 16,000 photographs of Picasso’s artworks and the photographs were featured in the Zervos Catalogue. In 1979, Yves Sicre de Fontbrune obtained the intellectual property rights to the catalogue. Then, in 1991, Alan Wolfsy, an American art editor, received permission from Picasso’s estate to publish images in his book, The Picasso Project. De Fontbrune sued in French courts, which ruled that use of the images  for “documentary” purposes did not violate Fontbrune’s copyright rights. De Fontbrune later sued in the U.S., where the Ninth Circuit held that there was evidence that Alan Wolfsy’s use of the copyrighted photographs were commercial and non-transformative and thus potentially violative of Fontbrune’s copyrights, and remanding the case back to the lower court.  Read the complaint HERE.

Howard Univ. v. Borders, No. 20-cv-4716 (LJL), 2022 WL 11817721 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 20, 2022). A federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that a rediscovered Charles White drawing stolen from Howard University must be returned. The university acquired White’s drawing, Centralia Madonna, in 1947. However, the last time the artwork was seen at Howard was in 1973. The university never noted the artwork as stolen and only noted its location as unknown. Then, in 2020, the work was rediscovered when Larry and Virginia Border, a couple in North Carolina, attempted to consign the work at Sotheby’s, after having been gifted the work by a family friend. During its research into the work, Sotheby’s contacted Howard, where it was discovered that the work belonged to Howard. Howard filed a lawsuit against the Borders. The Borders claimed a defense of laches, alleging that there was an unreasonable delay of filing suit. While the judge did not find evidence that the Borders knew the work was stolen, the judge found that the Borders did not establish rightful ownership, the couple did not establish that Howard knew or should have known that the artwork was in the possession of a third party, nor did the couple establish that Howard could have tracked the work to them. The judge ruled that Centralia Madonna should be returned to Howard University. Read the case HERE.

From France

France |. According to a complaint filed with the Paris Court of Justice in 2010, Chairwomen of the French Auction House Tajan, Rodica Seward has hidden a cache of 24 paintings she was hired to sell in a deal with former UN Ambassador Craig Stapleton. In the complaint, Stapleton alleges that Seward agreed to select and purchase several paintings for the former ambassador to be resold to third party buyers. After the sales, the two were to split profits once Stapleton recouped the original purchase price. Stapleton alleges that not only were the pieces not sold but Seward refuses to disclose where they are being stored. After two letters from Stapleton’s attorney demanding the return of the pieces, Stapleton discovered one of his pieces, melancholic interior (2010-11) by Ioana Batranu, for sale online. Stapleton then asked a judge to authorize the search of Tajan’s offices and Seward’s home. The searches were unsuccessful and Seward, to this day, has refused to disclose the location of the paintings. More HERE.

France | Maurizio Cattelan v. Daniel Druet. For over twenty years, sculptor Daniel Druet made sculptures for conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan’s projects. Druet brought forth suit in the Paris Judicial Court not against Cattelan directly but rather against Cattelan’s gallery, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin; publishing company Turenne Editions; and museum Monnaie de Paris for not giving credit to Druet for the works created by him. Druet sued the defendants for 4.5 million Euros in damages and exclusive authorship of nine sculptures. The defendants argued that Druet was attempting to claim ownership of not only the sculptures created by him, but the entire installations created by Cattelan. On July 8, 2022, the Paris Judicial Court held that exclusive authorship of the works belong to Cattelan, citing to Article L. 113-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code which states that “authorship belongs, in the absence of proof to the contrary, to the person or persons under whose name the work has been disclosed.” Read more HERE.