“Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer…”From “The Merchant of Venice,” Act 3, Scene 1
Wherever we are in the world, in France for Paris+for Art Basel, in NYC for Indian summer, at home or abroad for a peace of mind, en route because that’s life, we are all hurt by the same weapons.
Dark times, sadly, for many of us “trained only to the law,” stimulated by copyright debates, expert on due diligence obligations and ADR, wondering about worth of pictorial illustrations and artists’ rights and wishing for both unchecked freedom of expression AND personal security to all from children to elderly, worldwide. AI, welcome to the world where fellow human beings cannot empathize with each other or flatly condemn violence inflicted on civilians.
Whatever we think of law students losing job offers for voicing their insensitive thoughts or higher education institutions lacking basic humanity, there is too much devastation and destruction. Too many testimonies of traumatized survivors and images of the missing and the deceased, young and old. Too many unlikely stories of survival and too much staggering loss of human life. Barrage of information and misinformation. Not only practicing art law is difficult when the world is on fire.
In Spain the Reina Sofía Museum lifted the 30 year ban on photographing Picasso’s Guernica? That pain and suffering of war personified? Now, if only we could put a ban on warmongering and on staging war all together.
Senior Curator Fired For Show of Looted Greek Antiquities
A curator for Florida’s Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, was fired after concerns were raised about the provenance of Greek antiquities he included in an exhibition entitled “From Chaos to Order: Greek Geometric Art from the Sol Rabin Collection.” The exhibition was set to travel to the Denver Art Museum, but was canceled due to the allegations raised. Michael Bennet was the curator for Western Art at the Museum of Fine Arts and had 57 works on loan from Harvard Art Museums’ collection of Greek art. Only three of the 57 works in the show had been publicly exhibited before adding the allure of the show. However, most of the works in Bennet’s show did not have provenance information proving they had left Greece prior to 1970. The show made stops at the Rollins Museum of Art in Florida and the Gibbes Museum of Art in South Carolina, before Denver canceled the show. Read more here. (MH)
Hedge Fund Titan Suing Over Monet Paintings Lost In a Michigan House Fire
In June 2022, a fire ravaged the Michigan home of Matthew Halbower, founder and CEO of Pentwater Capital Management. The fire destroyed several major paintings by Claude Monet worth a total of $45 million. The paintings were covered by the London-based Hiscox, an underwriter for Lloyds of London. Halbower alleged that following the fire, the insurer did not reimburse the trust for the full value of three paintings destroyed in the fire and has not paid anything at all for two additional artworks they allege are covered under the policy. The Halbower Trust first sued Hiscox in August 2022 in Michigan, two months after the fire. To date, the total paid out so far to the Halbower Trust as a result of the fire appears to be approximately $31.3 million. The two sides currently differ over which exact paintings the coverage policy applies to. Read more here (RW)
The Continuing Uncertainty in the Turkish Art World
In late September, Turkey’s top appeals court upheld the sentencing of art philanthropist Osman Kavala. Kavala is a Turkish businessman, activist, and art philanthropist who launched the nonprofit arts center Anadolu Kültür in 2002. Kavala’s primary focus has been on shining a light on the cultural heritage of Armenians and other marginalized groups in Turkey. Kavala’s work on focusing on the genocide of Armenians has caused tensions with the Turkish government who do not acknowledge the genocide. In 2017, Kavala was detained for his alleged involvement in the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park Protest. In 2020, a court overturned his charges; however within hours of his acquittal, Kaval was accused of participating in the 2016 military coup. Last spring, Kavala’s acquittal was reversed and he was handed a life sentence without parole. This year the highest court in Turkey chose to uphold the sentencing. Read more here. SNA
In August of this year, the British Museum’s senior curator, Peter Higgs was fired for allegedly stealing valuable pieces from the museum and putting them up for sale on eBay. These pieces include stolen jewelry from the Roman Empire valued at $60,000 and was sold for $48. Because of this controversy, the British Museum launched a new section of their website in which individuals who think they may be in possession of these pieces of work can email the museum to report it back to them. This decision has been met with pushback from many nations like Greece and China who for years have been calling on the British government to return stolen pieces of art. Read more here. SNA
Art Institutes Closure Leaves 1,700 Students Affected
This September, the Art Institutes, an eight-school network of private colleges in the United States, closed, affecting 1,700 students. The school closings included locations in Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Tampa, and Virginia Beach. The closings come after a decade of declining enrollment paired with changing ownership of the school system. The Art Institutes offered degrees ranging from fashion design to culinary arts. In the closure announcement, the Art Institutes said it is working with partners in higher education to facilitate the transfer of academic credits to other institutions; however, there is currently no plan in place. Read more here. (MH)
Leon Black’s Connection to Epstein
Leon Black, a well known collector and former board chair of the Museum of Modern Art, agreed to pay $62.5 million to the United States Virgin Island. This settlement follows a three-year-long investigation regarding Black’s link to Jefrrey Epstein’s sex trafficking crimes. Black paid $158 million to Epstein for tax and estate planning services before his death in 2019. The settlement was made after two days of private mediation. The settlement cannot be used as potential evidence of Black’s wrongdoing. Read more here. (LE)
Santa Fe Gallery Sues Widower of Artist Hung Lui for Fraud and Intentional Interference
Co-owners of Santa Fe Turner Carroll Gallery are suing art critic Jeff Kelley, alleging that he acted with “oppression, fraud, and malice” to destroy the Gallery’s relationship with his late wife, Chinese American artist Hung Lui. The complaint was filed August 29 in the Superior Court of the State of California of Alameda County. The complaint has 9 allegations including, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, and trade libel. The Gallery argues that Kelley’s action damaged their accomplishments, impaired its position as an art dealer, voided relationships with potential customers, and diminished the value of works plaintiff had already acquired – including losing out on profits which they were entitled to under their agreements with Liu and Kelley. Read more here. (MH)
Partner of Disgraced Art Dealer to Spend 20 Months in Prison
On September 20th, the British art dealer Robert Newland was sentenced to 20 months in prison by a New York court. Newland partnered up with the art dealer Inigo Philbrick, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2022, to defraud investors, collectors, and fellow art dealers out of millions dollars. Last September, Newland pleaded guilty to conspiring with Philbrick to commit wire fraud and was released on a $400,000 bond. Newland cut his ties with Philbrick months before his indictment. Prosecutors said that while Newland did not instigate the multi-million fraud and doesn’t deserve as severe a sentence as Philbrick, a firm hand could discourage future art world swindlers. Read more here (RW)
Crimean Museum Director Sanctioned for Snatching Ukrainian Cultural Property
Andrei Malgin is the director of the Central Museum of Taurida in Simferopol, in illegally annexed Crimea. He is a Putin supporter, having told the Russian president that Ukraine was facing a revival of “Nazi ideology.” When the Russian force controlled the Ukrainian city of Kherson last year, the artworks looted from the Kherson Fine Art Museum were hoarded in Malgin’s museum. The EU’s sanction order states that Malgin was implementing actions that harm Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Another perpetrator against Ukrainian cultural property sanctioned by the EU is Natalya Leonidovna Desyatova (also known by the alias Lyutova), who was appointed in July 2022 as the new director of the Kherson museum by the Russian authorities. She directly oversaw the removal of artworks from the Kherson Fine Art Museum and their transference to Simferopol. Read more here (RW)
$20 Million of Looted Antiquities Returned to Cambodia
The family of billionaire collector George Lindemann is voluntarily returning 33 works to Cambodia. The looted artwork came to the attention of the Cambodian government following an Architectural Digest Feature of one of Lindenmann’s homes. Investigators and US officials acting on behalf of the Cambodian government, spotted the works and recognized them as stolen. Ex-looters provided the intel on pieces that were smuggled out of Cambodian temples. Two works of the deceased tycoon are unable to be returned because they were donated to the MET. Read More (LE)
Art, Business and Friendship Don’t Mix: Todd Goldman Files Suit Against Friend
The renowned pop artist and celebrity favorite, Todd Goldman, claims his former friend and business partner diluted his brand and conned him out of hundreds of his own pieces. His former friends Eli Weismann and Roy Revivo allegedly took advantage of the artist when he was financially struggling. Weisman, who runs the fine art gallery and auction house Q-Art, connected Goldman with Revivo. Revivo provided Goldman with two loans and used Goldman’s artwork as collateral. Goldman was unable to pay the first $40,000 loan and Revivo kept 2,500 lithographs as collateral. Revivo made $100,000 on those lithographs. When Goldman needed another loan, the pay established a similar deal. In exchange for a $100,000 loan from Revivo, Goldman backed the loan with 800 of his paintings said to be worth $3.5 million. Revivo asked to inspect the work before the contract was signed. Revivo gave Goldman $10,000 in good faith to ship the paintings from California to Florida. The works were stored in a truck with no air conditioning in extreme heat, resulting in damage to his works. Goldman lost out on deals because Revivo was holding his work hostage. Goldman even offered to give Revivo the initial $10,000 back in order to get his work back. Revivo then kept raising the price for Goldman to access his work again, making it impossible for Goldman to get his work back. While Goldman was struggling, Revivo and Weisman created copies of the works and sold them online, saturating the market with unauthorized works. Read More Here (LE)
This Billionaire is Saying Goodbye to $150 Million Worth of Art
Chinese Long Museum founder Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei are selling off a large part of their collection. Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei are market makers, but are now turning heads for their sale. The pair is selling Western Modern, Post War and Contemporary art at Sotheby’s this fall. There are 50 pieces being sold, but it is unknown whether the sale will include any of the couple’s collection of Chinese paintings and antiques. Read More Here (LE)
Stolen Totem Pole to Return to Canada from Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is preparing to return a popular totem pole to the Nisga’a Nation in Canada. Nisga’a Nation is an indigenous group residing in present day British Columbia. The totem pole has remained in Scotland for nearly a century and was originally sold to the Museum by Canadian anthropologist Marius Barbeau. Nisga’a researchers have long argued the pole was not sold in good faith and was stolen from the locals. The pole was originally commissioned in 1860 by House of Ni’isjoohl Matriarch Joanna Moody. Read more here. (MH)
Manhattan DA returns 7 Nazi-Looted Drawings to Family of Original Owner
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office returned seven artworks stolen by the Nazi regime to the family of the original owner. The drawings were once owned by Fritz Grünbaum, an Austrian-Jewish cabaret performer, and were all from Austrian artist Egon Schiele. Grünbaum was captured in 1938 and forced to execute power of attorney in favor of his wife while he was imprisoned in Dachau. She, too, was captured and compelled to hand over their entire art collection to the Nazis, who then auctioned and sold them to fund their party’s efforts. The paintings eventually made their way to New York City and were then dispersed throughout the country. The DA’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit seized the drawings in 2023 from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Ronald Lauder Collection, The Morgan Library, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), and the Vally Sabarsky Trust in Manhattan. Read more here. (AME)
Manhattan’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit Abusing Intellectual Property
The renowned Manhattan’s District Attorney’s Office is being accused of abusing intellectual property. Christos Tsirogiannis, a Greek forensic archaeologist and expert on antiquities trafficking, accused the unit of “abusing his intellectual property by ignoring or downplaying his requests to be credited in official announcements.” He argues they are taking his academic work, and not giving him the credit. Tsirogiannis never asked for payment for his work. The scholar only wanted recognition. In order to achieve that, Tsirogiannis sent an email to ARTnews with his accusations. The goal was to publicize the supposed injustice. Read More Here (LE)
2023 Art Law Day: Appraisers Association of America
- In Person OR Virtual | Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
- 55 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003
- Fri, Nov 10, 2023 9 am EST
The 2023 Art Law Day will be presented on Friday, November 10, at the Cardozo Law School in New York City with keynote speaker Adam Gopnik, the renowned and beloved writer for the New Yorker. Our panels will cover the following topics: Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: The Value of Authorship, Circular 230 – Rules to Give Tax Advice, Colonial Art Repatriation and Resale Contracts.”
Stop by and say high to our team at the Exhibitors Tables.
Resilience Grants Program for Cuban migrant artists, Artists at Risk Connection
In the face of the challenges posed by exile and migration to the creative expression of many Cuban artists, the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), in collaboration with PEN International, is pleased to announce the launch of the Resilience Grants Program for Cuban migrant artists. The goal of this initiative is to provide essential support to ten Cuban migrant artists, empowering them to overcome the challenges they face and bring their creative visions to life. The main objective of the grant program is to empower these artists through a resilience scholarship to support them in the execution of artistic projects that serve as powerful means to address issues such as artistic freedom, cultural rights, human rights, and other relevant issues. Beyond financial support, the grant program will provide various resources to help Cuban migrant artists navigate the new professional environment in which they reside abroad. By addressing challenges related to a new cultural setting, artists will receive the guidance and advice needed to foster their development as artists. Read more and apply for the program HERE.
Director of Advancement| Artadia
This member of the leadership team will be responsible for working closely with the incoming Executive Director (ED), the staff, and the Board of Directors to strengthen the mission and build and expand upon a revitalized fundraising program. They will be charged with creating, leading, planning, and managing a comprehensive development plan with the goal of growing the operating budget by 40% over the next three to five years. Read more HERE.
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Spring 2024 Application Period: Sep. 30, 2023 – Nov. 10, 2023
On Our Calendar
Generative AI Week | Thu, Oct 17 – 18, 2023 Atlanta, USA
The potential of generative AI is driving an unprecedented level of investment and excitement. Companies around the world are investing in the technology, and innovators are exploring a wide range of potential use cases. This conference will explore: What risks are involved and how can one best practice responsible AI?; What challenges are other businesses facing and what are the limitations to this technology?; What types of data should be used?; How can we bridge innovation and caution for a stable, safe and productive future alongside this technological revolution?
Read more HERE
Museums in Central Asia, Caucasus, and Eastern Europe: Rethinking Soviet Museum Management. | Mon, Oct 30 2023, 13:00-18:00 CET
Museums in many countries of Eurasia, such as Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan, have grappled with the institutional, conceptual, material, and legal legacy of Soviet museum management. Since the 1990s, this legacy has been reconceptualized and evolved in various directions, reframed through different conceptual frameworks.
In response to the need for access to scholarship and practice across the region, particularly heightened by the Russian-Ukrainian war (2014-), we will explore some of the most acute topics, such as the quest for (post)national displays in both the past and the future, the politics and consequences of nationalization, provenance research and restitution efforts, accessibility of archives, contemporary curatorial practices, and the application and limits of concepts such as post-Soviet, epistemological violence, and emancipation in knowledge production, among others.
The invited speakers are practitioners and scholars with first-hand experience in museum work. They will reflect on the process of knowledge creation, accessibility, changing political and research conditions in recent years. The workshop schedule is indicated in CET and will be conducted online via Zoom.
*CFAL EVENT: Securing Creativity: A Guide on Art Insurance for Artists | Nov. 7, 2023 | 12 PM EST | ONLINE | RSVP HERE
Learn about the intricacies of art insurance in our workshop with Anne Rappa, Senior Vice President, Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency. This comprehensive primer aims to equip artists with essential knowledge on the nuances of art insurance, ensuring a robust understanding of key principles and protection strategies.
During this session, attendees will gain insights into the foundational elements of art insurance, navigating policies, and deciphering contractual terms. Our speaker will shed light on the art insurance marketplace and fine art insurance products available for artists. Discussion will include security expectations, works in progress, commissioned artwork, valuation methodologies, and claims procedures. Attendees will leave with a clearer understanding of the entire process, enabling them to make informed decisions to protect their artwork.
**CFAL EVENT: Artist-Dealer Relationships Clinic | Wed, Nov 15 2023 5:30 PM EST
In 2012, New York passed an amendment to its Arts & Cultural Affairs Law, N.Y. Arts & Cult. Aff. Law §12.01 (2012), that affects the consignment relationship between artists and dealers and creates critical new duties—and liabilities, for the art dealer. Most importantly, it makes using any form of agreement drafted under the old law risky, particularly for the gallery or consignee. The Clinic connects artists, dealers, and attorneys to forge meaningful relations and provide a platform for artists and dealers to learn about art contracts, consignment agreements and have their questions on the topic addressed by experts in the field in a one-on-one consultation session.
Case Law Corner
- Orlando Museum of Art, Inc., v. Aaron De Groft, et al., Filing # 179591088, (9th Circ. 2023)
- In re Barnes Foundation, No. 1958-X0788, (Pa. Orphans’ Ct. July 21, 2023). Read our article about latest update on the Barnes Saga HERE.
- Philipp v. Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 77 F.4th 707, (July 14, 2023)
- Graham v. Prince, 15-CV-10160 (SHS) (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 6, 2023);
- Swinerton Builders vs. Asian Art Museum Foundation of San Francisco et. al., No. 6731 (S.F. Sup. Ct. November 22, 2021).
We are working on reorganizing our Book section of the website. If there are any librarians on our mailing list who knows about cataloging software, please reach out to us.
Censored Art Today
Ed. Gareth Harris
Art is about expression, but quite often art is not allowed to express. Art censorship is a centuries-old issue which appears to be on the rise in the 21st century—why is this the case? This accessible, informed booklet analyzes the censorship of art and so-called ‘cancel culture,’ focusing on who the censors are and why they are clamping down on forms of artistic expression worldwide. Gareth Harris skillfully parses the different contexts in which artists, museums, and curators face restrictions today, investigating political censorship in China, Cuba, and the Middle East; the suppression of LGBTQ+ artists in ‘illiberal democracies’; the algorithms policing art online; Western museums and ‘cancel culture’; and the narratives around ‘problematic’ monuments. This book will enrich the understanding of anyone concerned with the role of art in our time.
The Museum of Other People: From Colonial Acquisitions to Cosmopolitan Exhibitions
By Adam Kuper
In this roomy and level-headed book, Adam Kuper navigates the turbulent water that is today’s discussion of ethnography, ownership and restitution. He surveys ethnographic museums in Western Europe and North and Latin America, and the conflicting approaches—historicist, evolutionary, comparative, universalist—that shaped them. In a provocative manner, Kruper deplores the “slew of vapid New Age platitudes” in Washington’s National Museum of the American Indian, criticizes the British Museum’s heavy-handed shut-down of the department of ethnography, and mocks Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum for its poor approach to restitution. The echo call throughout this book is that we should envision a museum that transcends ethnic identities and challenges singular perspectives.
Treasures of Ukraine: A Nation’s Cultural Heritage
By Audrey Kurkov et al.
Created in partnership with a group of renowned artists, curators, and critics, this beautiful book chronicles Ukraine’s art and heritage. It contains over 220 colored images showcasing everything from Scythian gold, Byzantine icons, and wooden churches to gold-domed cathedrals, avant-garde masterpieces, and political art after the Orange Revolution. The images and textual narration interweave to present the nation’s living history. At a time when Ukrainian people and landmarks are threatened by devastation, this book refutes Putin’s attempted rewriting of history, looking past the gloom to celebrate Ukraine’s Inextinguishable cultural identity.
THESE WERE PEOPLE ONCE: The Online Trade in Human Remains and Why It Matters
By Damien Huffer and Shawn Graham
This is not merely a spooky read for October, but a book that digs in-depth into a real phenomenon—that human remains are up for sale online. In this study of the bone trade, the authors employ the methods from digital humanities, analyzing the sheer volume of social media posts and searching for explanations of what this “bone trade” is about and why it is concerning. At the end of the day, we should realize that the our understanding of “heritage” has be reshaped by the digital age, in which the living are connoisseurs in their own rights and the dead are othered and commodified.
The Art Thief: A true story of love, crime, and a dangerous obsession
By Michael Finkel
In this nonfiction work, Michael Finkel steps into the captivating but real world of Stéphane Breitweiser, the art thief that escaped authorities all over Europe for nearly 8 years. In the 1990s, Breitwieser and his girlfriend stole over two hundred art objects amassing $8 billion worth of art. A strange and fascinating tale, Breitwieser never stole for money but for an obsessive love of art, keeping all his treasures in his mother’s attic. The true story of art heists, passion, and crime, this book offers a light yet gripping read for the beach.
The Black Market: A guide to art collecting
By Charles Moore
Charles Moore’s new book reveals the inner workings of some Black artists in the contemporary art world. His revelations provide the blueprint to entering the elitist’s world of art galleries, art museums, art auctions, and art fairs. “Buy what you love,” is often the advice given to would-be collectors. Moore agrees but encourages collectors to understand the economics of owning art. Stories include, dealers like Alitash Kebebe, round out some of the spotlights on what it was like in the 80s and 90s for the art market of Black artists. Now collectors like Hill Harper, Keith Rivers, and Elan Nieves are rewriting history by building a legacy with their collection of art by Black artists and drawing on a series of mulishly constructed interviews with artists, collectors, art advisors, and artists; the author charts the voracious commodification of contemporary art and the position that Black art is forging in the history books.
The Madman's Gallery: The Strangest Paintings, Sculptures and Other Curiosities from the History of Art
By Edward Brooke-Hitching
This SundayTimes Literature Book of the Year 2020 is an exceptional exhibition, showcasing over a hundred magnificent works have been thoughtfully curated, each selected for its stunning beauty, intriguing peculiarity, and captivating narrative that lies at the heart of its creation. A must-read for any art lover, Brooke-Hitching captures the strangeness of the art world and the wonderful, varied work that has stunned, at times frightened, and excited the viewer.
You have reached the end of the October 2023 Art Law Blast! Stay safe, sane and sensitive.
DISCLAIMER: This and all of our newsletters are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as legal advice.