Saturday, November 28, 2009
Remember: "once an object falls under the aegis of a museum, it is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations."
"They have focused much more on the overseas market, and particularly the American market, since about 2000"
Some previous thoughts on these "friends" groups here.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
"The church considered selling its pews; it had an appraiser value its bell. It also has three other stained-glass windows that church records say are Tiffany designs but which are not signed and are difficult to authenticate. The St. John window with its Tiffany Studios insignia was by far the most valuable and seemed the logical choice."
My question to the Deaccession Police is: is this okay? Isn't the window held in the "public trust"? What about the pews and the bell? The church receives the same tax benefits that, according to the anti-deaccessionists, cause works owned by museums to be held in the public trust (and therefore prevent their sale). Isn't this going to cause other churches across the country to start selling off their stained-glass windows just to feed the homeless?
What gives the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro the right to sell off assets in order to serve its larger mission but prevents the National Academy of Art, or Brandeis University, from doing the same thing?
How exactly do works of art come to be held in the public trust? What is the mechanism? If it's not the tax benefits, what is it?
More from The Art Market Monitor, including a statement from Christie's ("Christie’s finds this complaint completely meritless. We have been seeking to recover a significant debt from an Osian-related party for more than one year") and a link to the complaint.
"I’m not sure that many people realize the collection will be reinstalled in galleries of the same size, the same shape, the same relationship ...
Monday, November 23, 2009
"This paper investigates the impact of equity markets and top incomes on art prices. ... [W]e demonstrate that ... equity market returns have a significant impact on the price level in the art market. Over a shorter time frame, we also find empirical evidence that an increase in income inequality may lead to higher prices for art .... Finally, the results of Johansen cointegration tests strongly suggest the existence of a long-term relation between top incomes and art prices."
Friday, November 20, 2009
"[T]he cases appeared to diverge as to three fundamental questions: (1) Is a photograph of a copyrighted work a derivative work at all? (the 'Definition Question'); (2) Must such a derivative work exhibit a higher level of originality in order to qualify for copyright protection? (the 'Originality Question'); (3) Must the creator of such a derivative work obtain separate specific permission to register his or her copyright, over and above the permission required to create the derivative work? (the 'Permission Question').
"The Seventh Circuit explicitly declines to answer the first of these questions in its Schrock reversal, but by clearly answering 'no' to the other two, the new ruling greatly reduces the significance of the Definition Question. If a derivative work need not meet a higher originality threshold and need not obtain separate permission to register, it really should not matter very much, in most cases, whether the photo at issue is deemed a derivative work of its copyrighted subject or not."
UPDATE: More from the folks at the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Earlier post here.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Second, there is this quote, from a Time magazine report on some deaccessioning at University College London: "To be sure, not everything in a museum's collection is worth keeping, let alone putting on display."
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Purity police chief Tyler Green would prefer that we not see this show. I don't know Dakis Joannou and am not likely to be invited to his house. I do know about his collection and am grateful it will be on view to the public.
"About those ethical problems: I have them with museums featuring trustee collections only when the collections are mediocre. ... Joannou's collection is remarkable. I want to see it and don't care whose board he's on.
"The hip bone's connected to the thigh bone. O, the horror. Trustees know collectors who know artists who know dealers who know museum curators. ...
"There is no rule against museums devoting shows to the work of a single collector. If there were, that rule would be made to be broken. Yes, the rich and powerful are involved in museums. Those for whom this information is a shock and an outrage are too pure (and rigid) to live in the world."
And more from The Art Market Monitor here.
UPDATE: Paddy Johnson has "the sinking feeling this story is turning into a New York Museum Director witch hunt": "I can’t help but feel that the ultimate goal of constructive criticism is getting lost when there are bloggers seeking out scandal we’re not even sure exists." And in the comments, Peter Zimmerman adds: "I don’t see the weight of the ethical charge that Tyler Green is championing. I understand that there are complications with the insider-ness– and yes, that really should have been and should be addressed. Even so, it’s as if Green is acting like a warrior on a vendetta against the NY institution, and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I just hope that the sensationalism of some of the writing about this subject tones down. And yeah, I’m excited for the show. I’ve wanted to see this collection for years, so in terms of serving a public, NuMu got that one right!"
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Art Market Monitor comments here.
Non-profit lawprof Susan Gary says "in my view, the benefits of this show outweigh the conflicts. It sounds like these works of art ... will be of great interest to lovers of modern art." She adds:
"As I read the [New York Times] article, I wondered where the conflict was. Giving the public a chance to view works of art held in a private collection seems like a good idea to me. However, as someone who does not collect art, I had not realized that a museum showing of a private collection will increase the value of those pieces of art. The value of a museum show is of particular importance for modern art, because a show indicates that the pieces are considered 'museum worthy.' So Mr. Joannou's collection will likely increase in value as the result of the show. There is no indication that he plans to sell any of the art anytime soon, but if he does sell some pieces at some point, he may benefit financially from the show."
Or not. As Saltz says, "it is a joke ... to think that Joannou’s collection will increase in value after being shown here. If anything, using three floors of the New Museum will overexpose the art and decrease its value." Put another way, there isn't any doubt that this collection is already "museum worthy."
"A San Francisco artist who was chosen by city officials to paint a mural on Market Street was stabbed last weekend ... while working on the job"
Longtime readers my remember Eisenberg for his argument that the tax deduction for fractional gifts of art should be abolished.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
"Seung's blind reliance on Dinaburg's alleged statements of the painting's value is not reasonable as a matter of law"
The decision proceeded on basic caveat emptor grounds. "A party is not justified in relying on any alleged misrepresentations if the facts were not peculiarly within the other party's knowledge and the party had the means to discover the truth by the exercise of ordinary intelligence." "Seung does not allege that she made any effort to ascertain the value of the painting prior to its sale." "Seung alleges nothing more than a relationship of art buyer and art seller, which does not rise to the level of a special realtionship [required for a negligent misrepresentation claim]." "Seung could not have reasonably relied on statements regarding the painting's value when she made no effort to independently ascertain its value."
Greg Allen comments: "if Seung's case is meaningful, it's only as a reminder to collectors to do their own damn homework; the NY Supreme Court determined that art advisors and even dealers are not 'experts,' and their opinions are just sales patter which constitutes, at best, 'non-actionable 'puffery'...on which a sophisticated commercial entity could not reasonably rely."
"There is no logical connection between Sotheby's failure to disclose a security interest and any actual or potential injury to … Minor"
"Minor does not allege that ... the paintings were auctioned at an inflated price because of the failure to disclose the security interest. To the contrary, because the paintings were sold [to him] at auction, Minor set the price for the paintings. . . . As explained above, the allegations in the proposed counterclaim do not support an inference of any connection between Sotheby's conduct and any actual or potential damage to … Minor… [B]ecause Minor pleads no facts to support an inference that Sotheby's security interest affected the value of the paintings, he fails to identify how Sotheby's failure to disclose this interest was material."
The court also rejected the notion that Sotheby's had fiduciary duties to Minor in connection with the sale:
"In arms length commercial transactions, 'no relation of confidence or trust sufficient to find the existence of a fiduciary relationship will arise absent extraordinary circumstances'" (quoting DeBlasion v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 2009 WL 2242605).
I believe Sotheby's own motion for summary judgment is still pending.
More Minor legal news here.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Meanwhile, the Tuscaloosa News says "UA needs to walk away from Moore lawsuit."
8-0 Alabama hosts No. 9 LSU this weekend.
"How can cultural heritage institutions legally use the Internet to improve public access to the rich collections they hold?"
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Mo(o)re from the Tuscaloosa News here.
Monday, November 02, 2009
"for example, the metropolitan museum says that it possesses 5 million objects. now how many of these are on display? 20,000? so in what sense is the work 'viewable'? it's like - correction: it is - a massive bunker of art, a miser with a stashed hoard of useless gold. the point isn't to display the art; it's to segregate it or insulate it, to assert its priceless uniqueness by, um, burying it forever etc."
The investigation concerns the work of outsider artist Clementine Hunter.
More from the Houston Chronicle here.