Monday, August 02, 2021

Three Years for Angela Gulbenkian

 Story here. Background here.

"San Francisco Unified School District broke the law when it voted to cover up a contentious mural at George Washington High School without first examining the environmental impacts, a judge ruled this week in a win for the high school alumni association suing over the issue."

Story here. Background here.

Interesting NFT Tax Issue

From a recent "Wealth Matters" column in the NYT:

"One issue that has not caught up with the technology is how NFTs will be taxed. Cryptocurrency is taxed at the capital gains rate, and many experts say they believe that NFTs will be considered collectibles, which are taxed at a 28 percent rate. But the tax issue gets more complicated because many NFTs are bought using cryptocurrency. So any transaction would be considered a realization of the gains in that cryptocurrency.

"''It’s a perfect example of where the law hasn’t caught up with the technology,' said Jere Doyle, senior vice president at BNY Mellon Wealth Management. 'Collectible in code sections says any work of art, rug or antique, metal or antique, or any other tangible personal property. Would any work of art be tangible or digital? Does tangible modify a work of art? We don’t know.'"

So This Is Chrismas

Eileen Kinsella in artnet news: Notorious Los Angeles Art Dealer Douglas Chrismas Has Been Charged With Embezzling $260,000 From His Former Gallery.

Artist Pension Trust Update

From Robin Pogrebin and Siddhartha Mitter in the New York Times:

"[D]ozens of the artists now say they have deep concerns about the company. It sold very little of their art, they say, made only two rounds of small payouts several years ago and sought to change the contract to make them responsible for storage costs. Artists say that after they objected, the company all but disappeared and they lost track of where their art was being held, something they had expected to be kept abreast of, even though such notifications were not required under the contract."

One artist has sued, "citing breach of contract. Another group of 30 artists in 2018 filed a complaint with a British regulatory agency, which declined to comment."

I was an early skeptic.

Friday, July 02, 2021

"In custody is not a gang of thieves who planned a Hollywood-style heist, but a 49-year-old construction worker, with the Twitter name ArtFreak, who was arrested on Monday."

NYT:  "Stolen Picasso and Mondrian Paintings Found Stashed in a Ravine in Greece." "The theft appears to have been years in the making as an obsession with art morphed into something criminal. The suspect, who was remanded to police custody after appearing before an investigating magistrate on Thursday, is reported to have told the police that he had 'always been interested in art.'"

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Playing Darts with a Rembrandt

NYT: Why Do People Want Jeff Bezos to Buy and Eat the Mona Lisa?

Includes the following:

"'You might get indigestion, but there is nothing stopping you under U.S. law from eating the Mona Lisa if you own it,' said Amy Adler, an art law expert and professor at the New York University School of Law. 'We only protect works for the life of the artist, with a few minor exceptions, but that’s basically the rule under the Visual Artists Rights Act.'

"In France, droits moraux, or 'moral rights,' would typically protect an artwork from such an act. 'Moral rights protect artists from the alteration, mutilation, or harm to their works that would be damaging to their reputation,' said Mr. Urice.

"But Leonardo da Vinci’s works aren’t covered by them, Mr. Urice added. 'The statute wasn’t enacted until the 19th century, and certain aspects of moral rights in France descend to heirs who can enforce them, but the statute would not be retroacted to the 16th century.'"

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

"It’s a reminder that American museums deaccession all the time, and have done so for years."

The Washington Post's Sebastian Smee takes a look at what has actually happened since the AAMD relaxed its deaccessioning rules at the beginning of the pandemic. The bottom line:

"[T]he AAMD’s decision to loosen its restrictions on deaccessioning hasn’t really resulted in the bonanza for auction houses that many predicted. In fact, when you even it out, sales from art museum collections have been more or less in line with sales pre-pandemic. ... In 2020, the number of institutions consigning work to Sotheby’s and Christie’s remained about the same as in previous years."

It's almost as if the Deaccession Police have a tendency to overreact to things.

Another tragic deaccessioning story

The Thomas Cole painting "controversially sold" by the Newark Museum recently ("More than 50 cultural historians and critics [had] released an open letter denouncing the sale as a 'senseless monetization' of the art") has ended up ... 90 miles away, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: "It was purchased from the auction by the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen PhD Foundation, a St. Louis–based organization whose aim is to 'carefully research and obtain American masterpieces,' and donated on a long-term loan to the Philadelphia Museum, where it will be displayed in the American galleries."

It went from the public trust to the public trust, an example of the Ellis Rule in action.