Monday, June 25, 2012

Gone Fishing

Back next week.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Christie's-Weiss Settlement

We learn from Carol Vogel's Inside Art column this week that the 2009 lawsuit by a family trust led by collector George A. Weiss against Christie’s, claiming the auction house had reneged on a $40 million guarantee, was settled.  "While nobody will reveal the details of Christie’s settlement with Mr. Weiss’s family trust — citing confidentiality agreements — some experts with knowledge of the lawsuit said they believe that Christie’s ended up giving the trust a figure close to the $40 million it was after."

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Cops were hunting for a slight, balding man who posed as a customer"

A Dali painting was stolen from the walls of Adam Lindemann's new gallery.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I'm a little behind on this story, but it seems that, "struggling with continuing deficits," the Corcoran is thinking of selling its building, "which has housed the gallery since 1897," and relocating.

The Deaccession Police are pleased to hear that "the museum is not, has not, and will not consider deaccessioning works to plug its budget hole."

That's the really important thing, and is a great relief.  We know the Corcoran would never, ever dream of selling 10 paintings from its permanent collection at a public auction including "John Ellery," an 1810 work by Gilbert Stuart, the master portrait artist, and "The Return From the Tournament" an 1841 landscape by Thomas Cole, a founder of the movement called the Hudson River School.

No, those works are held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations, and so can never be sold.  It's repulsive to even consider the possibility.  Those works can never be disposed of.  That would be to give in to the monetization monster.

Speaking of which, just to be clear:  you "monetize" work whether you use the proceeds to buy more art or to keep from having to sell your home since 1897. The only difference is what you do with the proceeds of the monetization.  But it's simply not the case that in one situation you are "monetizing" work and the other you're not.

"As spectacular sums flow through the art market and an expert verdict can make or destroy a fortune, several high-profile legal cases have pushed scholars to censor themselves for fear of becoming entangled in lawsuits."

Patricia Cohen, on the front page of today's New York Times:  In Art, Freedom of Expression Doesn't Extend to 'Is It Real?'

As she notes, the Warhol Foundation the Lichtenstein Foundation, and the Noguchi Museum "have all stopped authenticating works to avoid litigation." 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"We conclude that the First Amendment interests in artistic expression so clearly outweigh whatever consumer confusion that might exist ..."

"... on these facts that we must necessarily conclude that there has been no violation of the Lanham Act with respect to the paintings, prints, and calendars."

Big win for sports artist Daniel Moore on appeal.  Rebecca Tushnet comments here.  Birmingham News story here.  I predicted a two-touchdown victory for Moore when this all got started five-plus years ago.

"Questioning the Charitable Contribution Deduction"

The Nonprofit Law Prof Blog spots a trend.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

You gotta admire the chutzpah

Some hilarious acts of spin going on regarding the latest ruling in the California resale royalty lawsuit.

Here's the story.  Last month a federal district court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the statute was unconstitutional.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to stay the ruling pending their appeal.  This week, that motion was denied -- yet this is somehow being reported in the press as a victory for plaintiffs.

You see, it was a clever act of litigation jujitsu:  the plaintiffs "cleverly asked the court to stay the invalidation of the law—of course, they believed that the ruling had done no such thing, but they wanted to get the judge to state that."  Ahh, the old reverse psychology trick.  Well played, plaintiffs' counsel.  Well played.

Look, this is complete nonsense.  It was not "a victory cloaked in the language of defeat," and it did not "narrow[] the previous decision" in the case.  All it was was a tautological statement that a single district court decision is not binding on anyone other than the parties to the case, so there is nothing to stay.  State officials remain free to enforce the statute, and other plaintiffs are free to bring suit under it.  That's not in any way specific to this ruling.  That's just a fact about district court decisions generally.  There was no "victory" here, backhanded or otherwise.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Tell me again about the public trust ("quiet move" edition)

Laura Gilbert reports that "[i]n a quiet move, the Met has consigned a dozen Old Master paintings -- including some by major artists -- to Christie's for auction on June 6."

Maybe if you do it quietly, then those works are released from being held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations.

Shhhhhhh . . .

Sunday, June 03, 2012

"For most, attention will gradually shift back to what matters—the magnificent collection."

András Szántó in The Art Newspaper:  "[T]he new Barnes will serve as a reminder that it is possible to pay tribute to the past without surrendering to it."

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Remember, they had no axe to grind

The makers of "The Art of the Steal" won't even visit the new Barnes -- "we do not foresee ourselves visiting the McBarnes."

It's not the first time they've used that phrase, and I think it's telling.  The reason people don't like McDonald's is they think the food isn't very good, it's unhealthy, etc.

In the new Barnes building, the same food is being served, in essentially the same dining room, with the same service.  It's as if a bunch of charitable foundations got together and put up the money to make Per Se available to the masses -- same food, same space, and so on, only offered to a wider audience.  I suppose there would still be some bellyachers who complain about an "Exit" sign or something.

"When did judges become the ultimate arbiters of art?"

Eric Felten in the Wall Street Journal:  Is Is Art? Increasingly, Nowadays, That's a Judicial Decision.