Your Browser Does Not Support JavaScript. Please Update Your Browser and reload page. Have a nice day! October 2023 – Center for Art Law

In re Barnes Foundation, No. 1958-X0788, (Pa. Orphans’ Ct. July 21, 2023). 

A judge ruled in favor of a petition for a new loan policy for the Barnes Foundation in July 2023. The order represents another step in a string of re-interpretations of the will left by Dr. Albert Barnes, the founder of the collection that is now worth $25 billion. Since his death in 1951, the Barnes Foundation has sought court intervention when the Board felt the rules set out by the founder were too restrictive and were preventing them from running an effective organization. This loan policy change was approved by the court in keeping with the corporate purpose of the Barnes Foundation as originally laid out in the will: promoting “the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine arts.” The policy limits the lending or moving of the works, only allowing a loan if the exhibition makes an important contribution to scholarship, if the painting plays an important role in the exhibition, if it does not disrupt the educational programs at the Barnes, and if it is in stable condition to travel. No more than 20 paintings are allowed to be out of the Foundation simultaneously and for no more than 12 months. Read the decree here. (AME)

Philipp v. Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 77 F.4th 707, (July 14, 2023)

There has been yet another setback in the ongoing legal fight between the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the descendants of the Jewish former owners of the Guelph Treasure: ornate silver, relics, altarpieces, and gold and silver crucifixes. The United State Court of Appeals ruled against the descendants. The Guelph Treasure is currently a publicly owned collection in Germany, shown at the Berlin Applied Art Museum. The descendants of Jewish art dealers claim that the valuable items were sold under duress, and were sold for only a ⅓ of their market value to the Nazi government in 1935. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation argues that they are immune to US legal decisions since they fall under the German government. They also argue that the sale was not forced and the collection was not even located in Germany when the collection was sold. The descendants argue that the view of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation does not reflect what the Jews of Germany were living like at the time. Read more here. (LE)

Graham v. Prince, 15-CV-10160 (SHS) (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 6, 2023)

Richard Prince showed his collection, New Portraits, at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue gallery. The works each sold for $100,000, and were the subject of many lawsuits. Donald Graham sued after his image, Rastafarian Smoking a Joint appeared in Prince’s Untitled (Portrait of Rastajay92), was used by Gagosian to promote the exhibition. Graham sought unrealized profits. The court dismissed the lawsuit believing that the alleged infringement was not sufficiently connected to the lack of compensation. (LE)

Swinerton Builders vs. Asian Art Museum Foundation of San Francisco et. al., No. 6731 (S.F. Sup. Ct. November 22, 2021) 

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco filed a cross-complaint against WHY Architecture Workshop Inc. (“WHY”) in a San Francisco County Superior Court action originally initiated by Swinerton Builders (“Swinerton”) in December 2021. The cross-complaint is for damages due to breach of contract, indemnity, and defense against claims brought by Swinerton. The Museum is taking this action after attempts were made to resolve the conflict through mediation. The action relates to the design and construction of the Museums’ Pavilion. Though the Pavilion was completed, it was delivered late and its original construction failed to meet the minimum museum-quality standards. Specifically, the Pavilion leaked, its interior environment was inadequate, and the rooftop was unusable. The central question to be resolved is who must pay for the repairs and interventions. Read more here. Read Original Complaint. (MH)

Orlando Museum of Art, Inc., v. Aaron De Groft, et al., Filing # 179591088, (9th Circ. 2023)

The Orlando Museum of Art filed a lawsuit in early August in Florida state court against a group of individuals, including the museum’s former CEO Aaron De Groft. The lawsuit stems from a 2022 FBI raid that occurred at the museum over a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit that turned out to be filled with forged pieces of art. The museum is claiming that the defendants were part of a scheme to profit from the eventual sale of fake artwork. The museum is seeking damages for fraud, breach of contract and conspiracy. Read the complaint here. (SNA)