Your Browser Does Not Support JavaScript. Please Update Your Browser and reload page. Have a nice day! From the September 2020 Newsletter - Center for Art Law

United States

Bell et al. v. The Hershey Co. et al., No. 1:20-cv-03331 (E.D.N.Y. filed on July 24, 2020). Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Bell is suing chocolate manufacturer Hershey, following cease-and-desist letters he received last year to enjoin him from selling his pricey vinyl sculptures, with monster-like faces and sharp teeth, which carry names like “Kisses of Death” and “Kill Kats.”  The complaint argues that his parodies of Hershey’s candies should be protected by the First Amendment, as Bell provides commentary on themes “including the processed food industry’s impact on health.”

NYC Art Handlers LLC v. Fergus Mccaffrey Inc., No. 653514/2020 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed on July 31, 2020). NYC Art Handlers, a Brooklyn-based art storage company, is suing art dealer Fergus McCaffrey in New York State Supreme Court. The complaint, filed in late July, alleges that the gallery failed to pay at least $145,583 in storage fees and the Plaintiffs are requesting that the court transfer the title of the artworks to their possession, in order to auction them off and to satisfy the gallery’s debt.

Miller Gaffney Art Advisory, LLC v. GiulianiNo. 653670/2020 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed on Aug. 7, 2020). The Miller Gaffney Art Advisory Group (“MGAA”) has filed a suit against former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani in New York Supreme Court, alleging that he owes over $15,700 for services rendered during his 2019 divorce when MGAA was hired to appraise the value of the couple’s collection, so that it may be equitably divided after 15 years of marriage. The complaint, filed by Mazzola Lindstrom on behalf of MGAA, is based on breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

Restellini v. The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc., No. 1:20-cv-04388 (S.D.N.Y. filed June 9, 2020). In the lawsuit brought in June by Amedeo Modigliani expert Marc Restellini against the Wildenstein Plattner Institute (“WPI”) for allegedly violating his copyright and misappropriating his trade secrets in WPI’s upcoming catalogue raisonne on the artist, WPI fought back on August 14th with counterclaims of copyright infringement, conversion, and false advertising. The WPI claims that Restellini’s suit is “a belated and wrongful attempt to seize control over scholarship that was researched, collected and organised by others, and to ‘own’ facts concerning the artist Amedeo Modigliani (“Modigliani”) that do not belong to him.”

Cassirer et al v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, No. 19-55616 (9th Cir. Aug. 17, 2020). The Ninth Circuit affirmed a 2019 lower court determination that the Spanish Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is the rightful owner of Camille Pissarro’s “Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie” (1897), stolen from the Cassirer family by Nazis in 1939. The court found that the museum sufficiently demonstrated it had no actual knowledge that the masterpiece had been looted when they acquired the artwork in 1993 as part of a state-funded deal for $350 million.


Belarus | Viktor Babariko, one of Belarus’s top collectors and the main rival of the current president, has been arrested and jailed ahead of the elections on charges of money-laundering.

France | The Parisian gallery Cybèle is seeking reimbursement by Hamburg-based seller Nassifa el-Khoury, French auction house Pierre Bergé, and its expert Christophe Kunicki for allegedly providing false provenance for the Egyptian sarcophagus they purchased in 2007, which was seized in New York in 2019 and repatriated by the Manhattan District Attorney.

UK | At the end of July, the UK Supreme Court rejected the application made by the Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures for permission to further appeal the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal dismissing its claim for judicial review of the Ivory Act 2018.

UK | The 20-year old Spanish performance artist Shakeel Massey, who punched Picasso’s “Bust of a Woman” (1944) at the Tate Modern, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for damaging the $26-million painting.