Sunday, January 13, 2019

"The divorce also threatens to expose the private dealings of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the art world. Mr. Mugrabi, 47, is the scion of a powerful art-dealing family that is reportedly worth $5 billion and owns some 1,000 works by Warhol, making it the world’s largest private holding."

The New York Times on Libbie and David Mugrabi's divorce.

"[A]s long as dealers who show a lot of women artists pay those artists i am good with the dealer cheating on her taxes. It’s a wee bit bad-ass too. But you want ‘em to pay taxes, cool by me. She has to now. You win." (UPDATED)

Tweets Jerry Saltz, who was one of many "prominent art world figures" who wrote letters to the sentencing Judge on Mary Boone's behalf.

Paddy Johnson isn't having it:

"Taxes pay for food stamps, Medicare and the NEA. It’s not bad ass to opt out of those responsibilities so you can make improvements to your million dollar apartment and not stealing from your artists too doesn’t make it any better."

Nor is Rachel Wetzler:

"I'm not exactly cheering for Mary Boone to go to prison, but how warped does your worldview have to be to believe that it's OK for a millionaire to dodge taxes because you like her gallery programming?"

Nor is Columbia's Shamus Kahn:

"Spare us your righteous indignation about elites. Guess it doesn’t apply when they’re liberal and your friends."

UPDATE:  Saltz waves the white flag:  "BOY did I call this one wrong."

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

"Christie’s Sale of Francis Bacon Painting Draws Suits"

The work had been pledged as collateral for a $4.9 million loan. Details here.  Felix Salmon declares the suit "BONKERS."

"Mary Boone, Art Dealer, Cites Early Trauma in Bid to Avoid Prison" (UPDATED)

New York Time story here.  She plead guilty in September to tax fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for later this month.

UPDATE:  Prosecutors are seeking 30 to 37 months.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Legal tips for art lovers"

I'm quoted in this piece by Martha Lufkin in The Art Newspaper.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

How a charming art dealer became a wanted fraudster

On the Chowaiki saga.  Background here.

Recognize this practice for what it is

I've basically been arguing here for a decade now that there can be two coherent theories on deaccessioning.

You can think it's always wrong -- that museums hold their works in the public trust, for the benefit of present and future generations, and they should never be sold.

Or you can think works can, on occasion, be sold, if there is a sufficient reason.  That reason can be to acquire other work.  Or it can be something else (e.g., to keep from going out of business).  You have to look closely at each individual case and decide.  (This is my view.)

It's the middle view -- the view of the Deaccession Police, the view of the AAMD, the conventional wisdom in the field -- that is, frankly, ridiculous.  It holds that deaccessioning is deeply unethical and a violation of the public trust if the proceeds of sale are used for Purpose X (anything other than buying art) … but completely fine if the proceeds are used for Purpose Y (buying art).  I've never understood how that could be at all persuasive to anyone.

Former museum director Steven Miller has a piece in The New Criterion coming at it largely from the first perspective, and calling out "the obvious hypocrisy of voicing concern for the survival of collections, only to sell them into oblivion":

"Though it is largely accepted within the profession, deaccessioning is still a controversial issue.  The debate surrounding it surfaces with alarming frequency.  For the most part, however, complaints are rarely directed at the practice itself, but at what happens if any profits realized from the sale of the museum collections are 'misused.'  Furor tends to erupt only when income will cover operating expenses or capital and debt payments, rather than pay for future acquisitions.  Oddly, controversy about commercial deaccessioning sidesteps the fact that, unless the purchase is made by another museum, objects will probably be lost to the public forever.  How does that practice align with the preservation imperative museums repeatedly embrace …?  Put simply:  it does not."

He adds that once a work is sold, "we might as well have tossed them on a bonfire.  This is a total abrogation of museological duty."

What's his answer?  First, "recognize this practice for what it is and acknowledge that it contradicts a museum's commitment to preserving and caring for its collections."  And then he ends up signing on to the Ellis Rule:

"Correcting the unfortunate results of unbridled commercial deaccessioning is simple.  An item can be deaccessioned and kept by the museum for educational purposes.  Or it can be sold or given to another museum.  Everyone wins in this situation …. One museum's loss can always be another's gain."

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Settlement in the Anish Kapoor-N.R.A. Lawsuit

Story here.  Background here.  Kapoor declares victory.  On the other side, the N.R.A. says the suit was "baseless" but that "it agreed to remove the image 'to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation.' It also said that the settlement does not require the group to pay Mr. Kapoor any money."

Monday, December 03, 2018

Attorney Fee Award in California Resale Royalty Lawsuit

Opinion here.  Brief tweet-summary here.  Background here.