Center for Art Law

At the crossroads of visual arts and the law.

In Brief – 2014

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December 2014

9th Cir. Avant-garde This month, the 9th Circuit reheard en banc the resale royalty right case brought against auction houses by a handful of artists and artists’ estates. Enjoy the resale royalty right hearing here. IT

September 2014

What’s fair in “Fair Use”? This month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided that alleged illegal use of a copyright protected photograph was in fact fair under 17 U.S.C. 107. (Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation LLC, No. 13-3004, 2014 WL 4494825 (7th Cir. Sept. 14, 2014)). More importantly, the court criticized the Second Circuit’s ruling in Cariou v. Prince, 714 F.3d 694 (2nd Cir. 2013) due to excessive credence given to the “transformativeness” of the use as a matter of law. Given the apparent split in the Circuits on how to interpret fair use and transformative quality of appropriating in light of the limiting copyright holders rights to creative derivative works, the legal and artistic community would appreciate some guidance from the Supreme Court, in due time. Details.

REMIX British Invasion continues with creators of Culture Label organizing a three-day summit to talk about culture, entrepreneurship and technology. Hosts for the program: Google, MoMA and Bloomberg. Intended audience: museum curators and administrators as well as computer engineers, marketing experts, investors and lawyers. Details.

August 2014

Corcoran et al Museum community and the T&E Bar are eagerly following blow by blow developments surrounding Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. As this oldest privately owned art collection in DC is looking for a new home and financial baking, purists lament the inevitable changes that any modification or merger of the collection would spell to the Last Will and Testament of the collection’s founder. Details.

July 2014

Pollock he is not! John Re, an East Hampton-based painter was accused of painting and selling fake Pollock works. It has been reported that collectors who purchased Re-Pollock’s invested almost $2 million. Details.

Take Two Norton Simon Museum seeks a rehearing or a do over in its efforts to keep Lucas Cranach’s diptych “Adam and Eve.” Eve might have wanted to have a do over also, after she (allegedly) took a bit of the forbidden apple. Details.

June 2014

It’s elementary, Watson! Whether yo like it or not, Sherlock Holmes’ character is no longer protected by copyright. Two Herrick, Feinstein LLP attorneys began their reviewed the recent 7th Circuit Appeal decision as following: “It didn’t take much deducing for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to rule on June 16th that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the famous character sleuths created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the early 19th century, are in the public domain and free for public use. The resolution of this closely-watched copyright dispute has significant implications for the creation of future works featuring the Holmes and Watson characters because most aspects of these characters, according to the Seventh Circuit, are now “fair game.” …”

Read: Case Solved: Conan Doyle Estate Loses Copyright Dispute Over Sherlock Holmes (EASL Blog)

May 2014

Graduations! Center for Art Law applauds its writers who are graduating this spring — Ariel Greenberg (Cardozo), Lesley Sotolongo (Cardozo), Nora Choueiri (Fordham), and Joshua Greenfield (Albany)!

Museum: Musee Picasso (Paris) has been closed for renovation for almost five years — with reopeninfg delayed again until after the high tourist season, the French government let go the Museum director of 20+ years. Reportedly, in her defense Anne Baldassari, wrote a 44-page letter about her tenure… As the summer is heating up, so is the debate about the politics over who get’s to lead once-reopened museum.

March 2014

Museum: The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) issued sanctions against the Maier Museum of Art (Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA) following its deaccessioning and sale of a George Bellows’ painting. Reportedly, proceeds from the $25.5 million purchasing price will go to the college’s operating fund. According to the AAMD “sale of works of art from museum collections for such purposes is a violation of one of the most fundamental professional principles of the art museum field.” Randolph College museum is not one of the 232 members of AAMD. In response, college stated that ” College’s Board of Trustees is also charged with protecting the interests of this college and our future.” The sanctions ask AAMD members to suspend loans of artworks to and any collaboration with the Maier Museum of Art. Notably, no sanctions for failing to research and report provenance of art works in the AAMD member collections issued to date.

Gurlitt Art works linked to Hildabrand Gurlitt, a German art dealer and historian who traded and collected art during the Nazi era, keep reappearing following the discovery of the vast art trove in possession of Cornelius Gurlitt, Hildabrand’s son. Consisting of more than a thousand works by Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, and others, that were kept hidden in Germany and Austria, it was confiscated by Bavarian authorities.

Predictably, Cornelius was not the only one in possession of paintings his father acquired under questionable circumstances. A number of these paintings are hanging in German museums today. Others like, Jules Pascin’s L’Atelier du Peintre Grossman, were acquired through forced sale. Paskin’s painting for example left Gurlitt’s possession sometime between 1945 and 1972, when it was offered for sale at Christie’s in 1972, ultimately resting in the hands of Joel and Carol Honigberg. A restitution claim by the believed original owner Julius Ferdinand Wolff’s heirs is a possibility.

Read: David D’Arcy, “Painting acquired by Gurlitt turns up in Chicago home,” The Arts Newspaper, March 2014, at 4.; Philip Oltermann, “Picasso, Matisse and Dix among works found in Munich’s Nazi art stash,” The Guardian, November 6, 2013.

Cy Twombly Last year in March, half of the officers in charge of the Cy Twombly Foundation filed a suit against the Foundation’s financial advisor for unauthorized investment fees. The dispute between the Foundation directors is now settled.

“The settlement – involving Ralph E. Lerner, a prominent art-world lawyer and one of the foundation’s four directors; and another director, Thomas H. Saliba, a financial adviser – was approved on Thursday night in chancery court in Delaware. The full terms of the settlement are confidential, but they involve Mr. Lerner and Mr. Saliba resigning their positions, and Mr. Lerner dropping a lawsuit he had filed in the same Delaware court asking a judge to intervene in the foundation’s dispute, saying that it had become deadlocked.”

Read: Settlement Reached in Cy Twombly Foundation Lawsuit (TNYT, March 14, 2014).

February 2014

Kapoor The Toledo Art Museum announced its plans to to review dozens of works received and purchased from the New York dealer Subhash Kapoor between 2001 and 2010. The Toledo Museum of Art was one of many institutions that acquired materials from Kapoor, including a Ganesh a figure from India. While Kapoor pled guilty to selling stolen property, the Toledo Museum is one of the first to disclose its acquisitions — gifts and purchases from the dealer.

Read: Toledo Museum of Art Website; NYT.

Vase “Then there were 15” On Feb. 16, 2014, Maximo Caminero, an artist living in Miami, visited the Perez Art Museum Miami and vandalized an Ai Weiwei vase installation. He was recorded picking up one of the 16 vases in “Colored Vase” series, holding it in his hands and then dropping to the floor…. “the video shows him calmly putting his hands into his pockets and strolling off.” Caminero, alleged he was protesting museum’s preferential treatment of foreign artists over local talent; he was arrested for criminal mischief, he is out on a bail and facing prison sentence. The vase was covered by insurance In response to the allegations of protest, The New York Times quoted Ai Weiwei as saying “he should choose another way, because this will bring him trouble to destroy property that does not belong to him.” Chinese artist loaned the works to the Miami museum; the remaining vases are due to travel to Brooklyn Museum next.*

Read: Nick Madigan, “Behind the Smashing of a Vase: An Artist Says the Destruction of Ai Weiwei’s Work was a Protest” TNYT, Feb. 19, 2014

* In 2012, Tate Britain organized an exhibit “Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm.” Let’s talk about having such an exhibit in the United States about National and International attacks on art for various speech reasons.

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