Monday, February 18, 2019

The Swizz Beatz Resale Royalty Solution

Mentioned in this NYT Style Magazine profile:

"Dean has proposed sidestepping the law entirely and instead introducing an option for collectors selling a work through an auction house or gallery to simply check a box — yes or no (he’s been referring to it unofficially as 'the Dean Choice') — to indicate whether they’d like to give a percentage of the sale to the artist. He suggests that 3 to 5 percent is a fair commission. …

"'If you’re really a patron,' he continues, 'and really a collector, you’re gonna say yes. And I feel that in the first year we introduce this option, 30 percent are gonna say yes. And then the year after that it will be 60 percent, and then it will just keep going up from there, and then we won’t even need a rule. It will just be the thing to do. People are gonna want to check yes because the artists will know if they don’t — if they didn’t do the right thing.'"

Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Yoo’s response paints her former employer’s lawsuit as a case of sour grapes."

Background here.

Tell me again about the public trust (1960 Rothko edition)

SFMoMA is selling a 1960 Rothko painting at Sotheby's in May.  It's expected to sell for $35-50 million.

Now, you may think this significant work by this significant artist, having fallen under the aegis of a museum, is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations.  But clearly:  not the case.

And you may think potential future donors to the museum, upon hearing this news, might ask themselves "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"  But again:  nope.

How hard would it be for people to just admit that all the "public trust" talk is a bunch of bullshit and replace it with a rule that says museums are permitted to sell work if but only if they have a good reason for doing so?  (In this case, the good reason proffered is to diversify its holdings, to "address art historical gaps like works by women and people of color.")

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thirty Months for Mary Boone (UPDATED)

Story here.  Background here.

UPDATE:  Jerry Saltz still thinks she shouldn't have gotten any jail time:  "You all know where I stood on this.   Make her pay it all back.  Sentence her.  But not jail time.  So for me it seems harsh."  And Paddy Johnson still begs to differ.

And here is Nate Freeman on The Rise and Fall of Mary Boone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tell me again about the public trust (Zao Wou-Ki "masterwork" edition)

The Guggenheim is deaccessioning a 1958 Zao Wou-Ki painting.  It's estimated at $7.7-10 million.

Because the sale proceeds will "go toward the museum's art fund," it's not the case that the work is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations.

Judge and Mrs. Samuel I. Rosenman bought the work and donated it to the Guggenheim in 1964 but, again because the sale proceeds will go towards the museum's art fund, it's not the case that potential future donors will say "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"  Collectors don't say that when sales proceeds go to buy more art.  That's a well-established empirical fact.

So, so very ethical.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

"An artist resale royalty is fair in principle for all visual artists. It would also address lingering inequities born of racism and allow the families of artists excluded from the art market to be appropriately recompensed." (UPDATED)

Maxwell Anderson had a recent piece in The Art Newspaper arguing in favor of resale royalty legislation, which he says "is expected to be reintroduced" in the new Congress.

One of the arguments people often make against the resale royalty is that it's not necessary:  that artists whose prices go significantly up reap the benefit of that when they sell their own work.  Anderson points out that one group of artists that's not always true for is "historically disadvantaged artists who have been left out of the American canon of art for reasons of race, gender or other socio-economic limitations. This is especially true of the many artists who lack representation or a presence in the art market until the end of their careers or posthumously."  For example:  "Consider the Gee’s Bend quilters of Alabama: with no access to the gallery system, many of their artworks were purchased by Atlanta collector William S. Arnett at a time when no viable market existed for their work. … Like many artists, the value of the quilt makers’ works has increased over time. But many of the artists have either passed away or are no longer producing works, and thus an improved market came too late to benefit them in their prime. One could cite many examples of this discrepancy throughout history."

UPDATE:  Brian Frye is unimpressed:  "Even the best arguments in favor of statutory artist resale royalties are comically bad. Yes, it is possible to hunt up artists who didn't profit from work that later became valuable. But they deserve money because they are poor, not because they are artists."

"Athletes Don’t Own Their Tattoos. That’s a Problem for Video Game Developers."

Another interesting story from around the holidays:  the New York Times reports on a series of lawsuits against sports video game makers by tattoo artists (for example, where the LeBron James character in a video game includes LeBron James's actual tattoos).

NYU's Christopher Sprigman says:

"All seem to agree that 1) tattoos [are] copyrightable, yet 2) tattooed person has [an] implied license to walk around in public. But why doesn’t [the] implied license include [the] power to authorize reproduction/distribution of one’s image, w/tats? Isn’t that protected by 1st Amendment?"

Annemarie Bridy agrees:

"The implied license should cover any actual or virtual appearance of the tattoo as long as it’s incidental to the appearance of the tattooed person."

(To which Sprigman responds:  "Agreed. This entire developing genre of 'let's shake down the video game companies w/some new tattoo copyright litigation' should end.")

The Kendrick Lamar infringement lawsuit also settled over the holidays

Story here.  The artist who sued him had won an important summary judgment victory in October.

"[B]ut didn't it all work out in the end?"

Still catching up on some year-end reading, and came across this, from Michael Hiltzik's list of the 10 best books he read in 2018, one of which was John Anderson's “Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection”:

"Eventually, after intricate legal maneuvering, the entire collection was moved in 2012 to a new home in Philadelphia, into a painstaking replica of the interior of the Merion gallery. Art critics were divided, with some, including Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times, remaining unhappy, while others professed themselves to be pleasantly surprised at the resolution.  What remains clear is that the relocation finally opened up this outstanding collection to full public view. That points to a question that neither Anderson nor Argott adequately answers — what was wrong about moving the Barnes? It was locked in a community that didn’t want it, run by a board that couldn’t manage it, was all but invisible to the public and was threatened with physical deterioration."

Good question.