Friday, December 28, 2007
Lee's hunch about the Statue of Liberty seems correct: having been registered for copyright in 1876, I don't see how it could fail to be in the public domain now. As for the news out of Egypt, it's not entirely clear what the scope of the new legislation will be -- the New York Times says "the proposed law would apply to full-scale precise copies of museum objects and 'commercial use' of ancient monuments" -- but, in any event, the real issue is going to be enforcement: it's hard to imagine other countries (including the US) enforcing the law for acts that occur outside of Egypt.
In all likelihood, things will remain quiet around here through the end of the year. Happy New Year to all!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Gehry also made Fortune's list of the year's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business: "MIT sues architect Frank Gehry, alleging that flaws in his design of the school's $300 million Stata Center - which Gehry himself once described as looking 'like a party of drunken robots got together to celebrate' - resulted in problems including cracks, leaks, and mold."
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"Lyle also declined to rule out that the entire art collection could revert back to the New Mexico museum"
"One day after announcing that it was canceling plans to lend paintings from its museums to a major exhibition in London, Russia reversed itself after the British government moved up the date on which legislation protecting art from seizure in lawsuits would become effective .... The exhibition, 'From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925,' was scheduled to open at the Royal Academy on Jan. 26. But Moscow refused to lend major French and Russian paintings out of concern that they might be held. ... Among the paintings to be shown were prominent Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, which descendants of some Russian collectors claim were taken by the new government after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. James Purnell, head of the British Culture Department, said on Thursday that Britain would move up, to early January from late February, the effective date of a provision in legislation that bars the seizure of art lent on a government-to-government basis."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"It was a professional job; it was something they studied because the paintings were in different rooms"
"Armed with nothing more than a crow bar and a car jack, it took thieves just three minutes to steal paintings by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari, worth millions of dollars, from Brazil's premier modern art museum. Authorities said they hit the Sao Paulo Museum of Art just before dawn Thursday — a time when the city's busiest avenue is deserted and the guards inside were going through their shift change."
Previous post on this issue here.
UPDATE: Since charitable deductions are allowed, if you're looking for suggestions about where to give, Tyler Cowen has some pointers.
"One can't help wondering whether there are any more such subprime objects in the blue-chip collections of the world" (UPDATED)
UPDATE: "The best forgeries are those that haven't been discovered yet."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Because of an editing error, an article...about a promised gift of 130 artworks from Janice and Henri Lazarof to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art included an outdated reference to tax law governing partial donations....Under the current law, the tax deduction for partial gifts does not rise from year to year if works appreciate in value. Thus donors no longer benefit from bigger deductions for such appreciation."
Lee Rosenbaum wonders "how was it that the Lazarofs were willing to make such a major fractional and partial gift in the current unfavorable tax climate for this type of donation, which museum officials claim has essentially frozen this form of largesse?" The answer, it seems, is that technical corrections have at last been introduced in Congress that will fix the problematic estate and gift tax consequences that were created by the enactment of the new law last year. I'm told by a lobbyist close to the negotiations that the corrections have bipartisan support and have already been vetted by the Treasury, so it's assumed by all concerned that they will eventually be enacted, and with an effective date retroactive to the date the original legislation took effect, thus covering the Lazarofs' gift to LACMA.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Derek Fincham: "Whether a resolution will emerge remains to be seen, but right now there are more questions than answers, most notably: where are the paintings?"
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"First, how many more forgeries are out there? How easy is it to trick authenticators? The best in the world looked at this sculpture and were duped. ...
"Second, I think it reveals the continuing need for more provenance information in art and antiquities sales. The answer may be for an international registry which tracks buyers and sellers when objects are bought and sold. Until such a system emerges, the market continues to leave itself open to this kind of embarrassment."
I'm interested in the second idea. The notion of a registry of artworks keeps coming up whenever something goes wrong in the art market, but I'm not sure I see how it's supposed to work. How would it have helped in this case, for example? Presumably there would be some mechanism for listing older works (like this one) with the registry -- wouldn't there be every bit as much opportunity for fraud at that stage as there was in getting the work accepted for sale at Sotheby's? After all, by all accounts the fraudulent work here came with a convincing provenance. Says The Art Newspaper:
"According to the Sotheby’s 1997 catalogue entry, The Faun had belonged to the artist Roderick O’Conor, a friend of Gauguin in the 1890s. However, although O’Conor was given some works by Gauguin, this one is said to have [been] bought from Nunès and Fiquet in 1917, and then to have passed down his family. ... [The con-artist consignor] had supplied Sotheby’s with a copy of what appeared to be a Nunès and Fiquet bill, selling The Faun to O’Conor."
Couldn't the same scheme have fooled whoever was in charge of the international registry?
Perhaps Derek can sketch out in a little more detail how he envisions the registry working.
UPDATE: Derek responds here.
Grant offers the following summary:
"The new legislation, titled the 'Promotion of Artistic Giving Act of 2007,' would restore the open-end length of the gift, only requiring that the donation be completed within nine months of the death of the donor. It would again allow escalating value deductions during the term of the gift, as long as the Internal Revenue Service's art advisory panel reviews the higher appraisals. Additionally, the bill would repeal the requirement stated in the Pension Protection Act that requires museums have 'substantial physical possession of the property' during the donation process."
The first two sentences are largely correct, but I don't think the last sentence is right. The "substantial physical possession" rule would still apply (except that, since, as Grant points out, gifts would no longer have to be completed within a 10-year period, presumably the museum would have to take possesson at some point prior to the new nine-months-of-death deadline).
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Sun-Times says "museum officials are in discussions with the dealer and Sotheby's about being compensated," and The Art Newspaper says "Sotheby’s is now expected to reimburse the Art Institute of Chicago." I don't know what the law is in the U.K., but in the U.S. the auction houses typically guarantee the authenticity of works only for five years from the date of sale.
UPDATE: Thursday's New York Times has this story by Carol Vogel.
"If there's anybody out there that wants a hole drilled in their head and a pineal extender grafted to their pineal gland, let me know"
Christa Desrets reports in this morning's Lynchburg News & Advance that
Lee Rosenbaum has more.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The case was decided on idea vs. expression grounds. On summary judgment (the case was before her on a motion to dismiss, which she converted to a motion for summary judgment), Judge Cote held that, "having reviewed these works in some detail, it is readily apparent that these claims are wholly without merit, as nearly every instance of alleged similarity between Heroes and the plaintiffs' work relates to unprotectable ideas rather than protectable expression." She said that "a 'minority artist' who has the ability to paint the future is an 'idea' that is not protected under the copyright laws." After reviewing a number of other alleged similarities between the works, she concluded that "while the line between mere 'ideas' and protected 'expression' is famously difficult to fix precisely, these alleged 'similarities' are textbook examples of the former. ... [I]t must be concluded that whatever similarities may be said to exist between Heroes and plaintiffs' works are not due to protected aesthetic expressions original to the allegedly infringed work, but rather related to ideas in the original that are free for the taking."
Next up: NBC's request for attorney's fees.
If the work does have value (perhaps as a "lottery ticket" giving the holder a chance at a real Pollock if the consensus regarding their authenticity can somehow be turned around), the "related use" rule (which requires that the donated work be related to the exempt purpose of the donee charity) would probably prevent Matter from taking any tax deduction for the donation in any event.
"The exhibition is made up of works intended to express outrage at the kiss and includes Bertrand Lavier's interpretation of Salvador Dali's red lips-shaped couch (Lavier has placed the lips on top of a freezer), Douglas Gordon's human skull marked with the impression of his own lips, painted in the exact shade as were Twombly's aggressor, and, alas, the restored [Twombly] triptych."
Callen also notes that the other paintings that were on view with the triptych this summer are now up at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea ("where they are watched over by suited security guards").
"'How dim would you have to be?' Mark Knight, a 41-year-old nurse from Ipswich, asked rhetorically the other day. '"Oh, no, I wasn’t expecting the crack to be there,"' Mr. Knight whined, imagining the inner monologue of an injured party. 'There’s a crack there, but hey, when I put my foot in there, I didn’t expect to trip in it.'"
Lyall writes that, when she was there, "visitors seemed filled with wonder, not only at the artwork’s grand gesture but also at the mildness of the hazard it represents":
"The first thing you see when you enter the [gallery] are signs saying, 'Warning: Danger of Falling,' illustrated with a picture of a stick figure who has tripped on something and is about to fall down. Also, the crack is hard to miss, there on its own in the middle of the floor, surrounded by people taking pictures of it, peering down into it, stepping across it and walking alongside it. 'The exhibit is all about the crack,' said Peter Girard, 38, an American tourist. 'It’s a really big crack. What are you looking at if you’re not looking at the crack?' ... Two visitors from the Netherlands, Manon Straatman and her husband, Victor, were equally mystified by the perils of 'Shibboleth.' 'Maybe someone walks into the museum and isn’t interested in what’s in the museum,' Mrs. Straatman mused. Mr. Straatman said the crack was modest in its width and depth, hardly the sort of gaping abyss into which you might plummet to your doom."But wouldn't you know it . . . as they are talking, someone nearly plummets to her doom:
"'Oh look, there’s someone falling now,' [Mr. Straatman] said suddenly. Indeed there was: A woman nearby had caught her foot in the crack and pitched awkwardly forward, ending up sprawled on the floor. The woman, who later identified herself as Anne McNicholas, a 51-year-old medical researcher from New Zealand, said she had arranged to meet some friends in the gallery and had not been looking where she was going. 'I just didn’t see it,' she said. She was not impressed by the exhibit, particularly in light of her injuries: a nasty scrape-cum-bruise on her right knee and an even nastier one on her left shin. 'I don’t think it should be there at all.' she said. 'It’s not America,' she added pointedly, 'so I won’t sue.'"
The last word is given to Uros Vasiljevic, a 29-year-old businessman visiting from Serbia: "Art is dangerous sometimes."
UPDATE: Richard Lacayo gets to thinking about some really dangerous art.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
"Is Alex Matter prepared to concede the paintings are not authentic? No. We don’t regard Mr. Martin’s conclusions as reliable." (UPDATED)
There are also a number of quotes from Matter's lawyer, Jeremy Epstein of Shearman and Sterling, regarding forensic scientist James Martin, who reportedly held back on releasing the results of his research for fear that Matter would sue him if he did:
"'After the draft report was received we called him up and said we wanted to discuss it with him ...,' Mr. Epstein said of Mr. Martin. 'He refused to meet with me. . . . I’ve been a lawyer for 30 years and he’s the only hired expert I know of that declined to meet with the person who hired him.' Without such a meeting, Mr. Epstein said, they considered the report unfinished and had not authorized Mr. Martin to release it. 'We asked to see the underlying scientific documentation. He said it was destroyed, but he would recreate it if paid a lot more money. We refused.' Mr. Epstein added that he had not threatened litigation, as some news accounts have reported. 'I’ve said all along no one is threatening to sue anybody. It’s a figment of Mr. Martin’s imagination.'"
UPDATE: Martin responds.
Friday, December 07, 2007
"It is now the intention of the foundation to completely clarify any ownership over the title once and for all" (UPDATED)
UPDATE: Related story from Carol Vogel in The New York Times Saturday:
"In a legal strategy that is spreading in the art world, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation jointly asked a federal court yesterday to declare them the owners of two Picasso paintings that a claimant says were sold under duress in Nazi Germany. A request for declaratory judgment, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, involves 'Boy Leading a Horse' (1906), donated to MoMA in 1964 by William S. Paley, the founder of CBS, and 'Le Moulin de la Galette' (1900), given to the Guggenheim in 1963 by the art dealer Justin K. Thannhauser. The museums asked the court to declare that the paintings had never been part of a forced sale and rightfully belong to them."
"A Columbia University student who was handcuffed and detained for taking pictures in the subway while working on an art project is suing the New York City Police Department."
The suit is being brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union. A similar case is ongoing in Washington (see here, with an update here).
Thursday, December 06, 2007
"Since the late 1970s, when Richard Prince became known as a pioneer of appropriation art — photographing other photographs, usually from magazine ads, then enlarging and exhibiting them in galleries — the question has always hovered just outside the frames: What do the photographers who took the original pictures think of these pictures of their pictures, apotheosized into art but without their names anywhere in sight?"
To find out, he talks to one of them, "a successful commercial photographer from Chicago named Jim Krantz," whose work Prince used as part of his well-known Marlboro Man series. Krantz says he just wants some credit and has "no intention of seeking money from or suing" Prince, and the story largely skims over the legal issues, saying only that Prince's "borrowings" "seem to be protected by fair use exceptions to copyright law." The situation is actually much more complicated than that. You could organize a whole symposium about the legal issues raised by appropriation art -- in fact, someone has, and I wrote about it here. As I said then:
"a better sense of the bottom line was conveyed by Judge Leval when, after giving some general remarks on copyright and fair use, he asked, 'So what's it all mean for appropriation art,' then paused . . . and kind of threw up his hands and said: 'I don't know.' He went on to say the law in this area is 'astonishingly unpredictable' and that it's 'very hard to know what the law is.' He said 'almost any question' in this area is 'very difficult to answer' and added that he doesn't know of any area of law where there are so many reversals by the appellate courts."
More on today's story from Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento here. Prince's retrospective at the Guggenheim continues through Jan. 9.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
"The defamation problem, coupled with the 'right of publicity,' are legal issues that could give legitimate artists like Kauper headaches"
The end result, he argues, is that "the occasional conflict between First Amendment rights, copyright interests, and an individual's private property right to his or her own image has caused many a judge to scratch his head, and many a lawyer to offer advice hedged with qualifications."
With qualifications, I think that conclusion's about right. Sort of. As a general matter.
Same thing happened last year, with a different, but thematically similar, label. "'Last year it was elves. This year it's Santa. Maybe next year it'll be reindeer,' said Daniel Shelton, owner of the [distributor]."
Friday, November 30, 2007
"In September, opponents to the sale ... filed a motion to intervene in response to the college’s litigation regarding the Smith trust. They asked the court to declare that the entirety of the collection is interconnected and should be protected from sale or sharing. Because the college has withdrawn its suit on the matter, [a Randolph spokeswoman] said, that response litigation becomes a 'moot point.'"
"The saga of the 'Matter Pollocks' ... appears to have reached a quiet conclusion on Wednesday night"
She also relates the following exchange from the Q & A:
"Addressing himself to [NYU's Pepe] Karmel, [Harvard curator Theodore] Stebbins asked: 'Since most people agree that, with a very few exceptions, they don't look like Pollocks, why are we here? Why did this [story] have legs?' 'Fear,' Mr. Karmel responded, noting that experts who offer opinions about authenticity risk being sued by disgruntled owners. ... 'Those of us who are scholars don't want to get involved.'"
Cleveland Plain Dealer art critic Steven Litt has been following this story as well, and his report on the event is here.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"Mr. Martin was commissioned to examine the paintings in 2005 by their owner, Alex Matter.... Mr. Matter has said he found the paintings ... in 2002 or 2003 in a Long Island storage container that had belonged to his father. Although Mr. Martin ... completed the analysis last fall, he has said he did not release it earlier because Mr. Matter’s lawyer told him he would face a lawsuit if he did so. It is unclear why he chose to go public now. Mr. Matter’s lawyer ... has denied threatening Mr. Martin, but he has said that he did tell Mr. Martin he was not authorized to release the report because Mr. Matter ... did not feel it was complete."
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Calatrava says he will appeal.
"Prosecutors say [Marshall] falsely told Astor she was running out of money to persuade her to sell a Childe Hassam painting, 'Up the Avenue from 34th Street,' for $10 million; he allegedly took $2 million as a sales commission. He also is accused of taking two works of art, worth about $500,000 each, from Astor's house while she still lived there."
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Art News Blog offers an explanation.
UPDATE: Ed Winkleman "can't imagine a museum taking such a risk" in "the highly more litigious U.S."
UPDATE 2: Insurance lawyer George Wallace: "Brings a [w]hole new meaning to the phrase 'Fall Art Season,' eh?"
"The idea that the work is now a copy has more than casual significance. Although this is the kind of mess the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 was devised to address, that legislation—which allowed Chapman Kelley to score a recent court victory over the Chicago Park District for destroying his Grant Park wildflower garden—won’t help Agam. Communication X9 went up in ’83, and the law isn’t retroactive. Before VARA, artists had to rely on protections like copyright, and attorney Scott Hodes, who’s representing Agam, says that area of the law would be applicable here. Hodes says Agam retains the copyright and so his permission would be needed for any derivative work."
"As a businessperson, I would be very concerned at the deal Fisk has cut with the museum in Arkansas"
"Ultimately the court and Fisk have got to decide, are you going to sell this thing or not? And if not, fine. Put it aside and get on with other ways of solving the Fisk problem. If you're going to sell it, I'd rather they go out and sell it properly and take the money and put it in the bank and secure Fisk's long-term future."
I'm not surprised people are becoming frustrated with the way this is being handled.
"Prosecutors were believed to be investigating millions of dollars in cash, property and stocks that Mr. Marshall obtained over the years in his role as steward of his mother’s finances. That included the sale of one of Mrs. Astor’s favorite paintings, 'Flags, Fifth Avenue,' also known as 'Up the Avenue from Thirty-Fourth Street, May 1917,' by Childe Hassam, for $10 million. Mr. Marshall collected a $2 million fee from his mother for handling the transaction."
Earlier post here.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
"The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission decided yesterday that the Guggenheim should maintain the same light-gray paint shade it has had since 1992, when a major expansion of the museum ... was completed, rather than the original light yellow."
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
"[T]wo pieces of artwork proposed for sale were donated without restrictions. Two more weren’t donated at all - they were purchased.
"Critics of the sale say that doesn’t matter.
"Oh, yes, it does matter.
"At least, as owner, the school ought to be able to sell the paintings it bought.
"As for the two paintings donated without restrictions, sale critics say the donors would have restricted their gifts if they had guessed the paintings would ever be up for sale.
"But business decisions like this cannot rely on would have/might have/could have. Decisions cannot fairly be based on guesses - in this case not just on donor intent, but guesses about donor intent.
"Donors can rightly restrict the use of gifts, through contractual arrangements."
It goes on to point out that "
Still, despite all that, the paper thinks the Virginia Supreme Court was right to enjoin the sale. Why?
"Other lawsuits are pending against
"If the school had no right to remake itself, then its current incarnation is illegitimate - and it therefore has no authority to dispose of the school’s assets.
"It would seem that the courts must first answer the question of whether the new co-ed version of the college may even be permitted to exist. Then the question of the art sale can be settled.
"Of course, by then the question may be moot.
The decision is here. As I mentioned at the time the suit was filed, even if he gets past the standing hurdle, the plaintiff still has an uphill climb.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
UPDATE: Christa Desrets has a lengthy story in Sunday's Lynchburg News & Advance reminding us why the school is trying to sell the paintings in the first place:
"In about three weeks,
"In the France that this judge believes in, if you're willing to fork over a couple thousand dollars, you can put your mark on a highly valuable work of art and get famous doing it. Of course, Sam is herself an artist, and now you know her name."
Sergio Muñoz-Sarmiento discovers a loophole in French law.
Friday, November 16, 2007
You can see the photograph at issue here. The case has its own Wikipedia entry. Sewell Chan of the New York Times has more on today's decision here.
UPDATE: Christie's has pulled the paintings from auction. Callen Bair recaps here. Richard Lacayo notes that "for now the opponents are elated. But this cliff hanger isn't over yet." Here they are, being elated. Here too.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a University of Washington professor it says was detained by city of Snohomish police for taking photographs of power lines as part of an art project. The professor is 54-year-old Shirley Scheier, an associate professor of fine art at the UW. The ACLU describes Scheier as an artist who uses photos and public land and public structures in her artistic prints. The ACLU says the suit was filed today in Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett and seeks compensation for her wrongful detention. ... The suit says Scheier was detained by Snohomish police in October 2005 near a federal Bonneville Power Administration substation. It says police frisked and handcuffed Scheier, and placed her in the back of a police car for almost 30 minutes."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In an earlier statement, a spokesperson for the group fighting the sales said a lower bond amount was justified because "if the Plaintiffs lose, the College will still have possession of the paintings and can simply sell them at a later date when the art market may be in a more favorable position and when the taint of the College's actions in this matter may have left buyers' memory" -- but of course the bond is required precisely in case the opposite happens (the art market comes to be in a less favorable position).
As Lee Rosenbaum notes, the group's lawyer is playing hardball: "Injunction or no, if we prevail on the merits of the case next year ... then further litigation focusing on the return of the art will commence with those that purchase these paintings."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"It is disconcerting to see that a superstar architect, a global construction company and a world-class institute of higher learning, with $300 Million to spend, cannot seem to create a water-tight building. Mr. Gehry seems to think that construction defects are par for the course. In that context, it comes as no surprise that we find problems with much simpler, mass-produced homes and condominiums."
"Apparently [the artists whose work is featured in the exhibition] cut up magazines, copied comic books, drew trademarked cartoon characters like Minnie Mouse, reproduced covers from Time magazine, made ironic use of a cartoon Charles Atlas, painted over iconic photos of James Dean and Elvis Presley - and that's just in the first of seven rooms. ... Celebrated pop artists including Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol created these images by nicking the work of others, without permission, and transforming it to make statements and evoke emotions never countenanced by the original creators. Despite this, the programme does not say a word about copyright. ... Reading the programme, you can only assume that the curators' message about copyright is that where free expression is concerned, the rights of the creators of the original source material must take a back seat to those of the pop artists. There is, however, another message about copyright in the National Portrait Gallery: it is implicit in the 'No Photography' signs prominently displayed throughout its rooms .... These signs are not intended to protect the works from the depredations of camera flashes (otherwise they would read 'No Flash Photography'). No, the ban on pictures is meant to safeguard the copyright of the works hung on the walls - a fact that every member of staff I asked instantly confirmed. ... I wasn't even allowed to photograph the 'No Photographs' sign. A member of staff explained that the typography and layout of the signs was itself copyrighted."
Some New York museums follow this practice of not allowing any photography. Others, however, including MoMA and the Met, do allow it, with certain restrictions (for example, no flash). See here.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
UPDATE (Nov. 13): Lee Rosenbaum has the latest from Anne Yastremski of "Preserve Educational Choice," the group leading the charge to prevent the sales. Yastremski says "it is possible" the judge will hear argument on their motion to reduce or eliminate the bond this afternoon.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
And in today's New York Times, James Barron took a closer look at one of the many Salander-related claims, this one brought in federal court by two artists and two artists' estates, not against Salander or his gallery but, instead, against a gallery in Rome. They claim that, without their permission, Salander-O'Reilly purported to transfer ownership of more than 50 of their works to settle a $5 million debt to the Italian gallery.
Or, as NPR's Tom Regan puts it: "should someone who commissions a striking design like this expect to sacrifice some functionality?
Go get 'em, Lee.
UPDATE: Seems Lee mentioned this last week. But where's the passion?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
In the other Randolph suit, this one involving the trust created under the will of former Randolph art professor Louise Jordan Smith, a hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 15 (before the same judge).
Insurance lawyer George Wallace says: "Not surprisingly, the architects blame the engineers who blame the contractors who blame the subcontractors and so on down the line. And we can safely assume that everyone is busily tendering the suit to their respective insurers."
Ann Althouse asks: "Do you want a wild and crazy building dreamed up by an artist? Stop and think whether all the less strange buildings look the way they do for a reason."
UPDATED: The New York Times will have this story in tomorrow's paper. Gehry says "the issues are fairly minor. M.I.T. is after our insurance." He also claims "'value engineering' — the process by which elements of a project are eliminated to cut costs — was largely responsible for the problems. 'There are things that were left out of the design,' he said. 'The client chose not to put certain devices on the roofs, to save money.'"
Monday, November 05, 2007
UPDATE: More from James Barron in this morning's New York Times. (Apparently the filing was Friday, not, as I indicated above, yesterday.)
UPDATE 2: The New York Sun had a page one story today headed "Salander Case May Change the Art Market," though it's short on details on how it might change things. The only specific idea that's mentioned is a title registry (similar to the ones in place for cars and real estate), but, while that makes some sense in theory, the practical problems seem to me pretty insurmountable (what to do, for example, about the many many works already out there in circulation?). Some interesting ideas were batted around over at Artworld Salon a couple weeks ago (including in the comments).
“I think what Crystal Bridges is doing is actually raising the profile of American art in this country"
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Christa Desrets had an update on the
Saturday, November 03, 2007
As I recently noted, I have my doubts about Section 1031's application to sales of art under current law, so this may be less a potential change in the law than a clarification of existing law.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The regulations also require that, if an auction house makes loans or advances to consignors, "this fact must be conspicuously disclosed in the auctioneer's catalogue or printed material." But this disclosure needn't be made on a lot-by-lot basis; it's enough for the auction house to include a general statement in the catalogue that it offers loans and/or advances to consignors. § 2-122(h). Similarly, section 2-122(f)(1) requires the auction house to disclose the fact that a sale is subject to a reserve -- but here again, this obligation can be satisfied by a general statement to that effect in the auction catalogue. The regulations also expressly permit the auctioneer to place so-called "chandelier" (or, as Grant calls them, "phantom") bids on behalf of the consignor up to the amount of the reserve (though this practice too must be disclosed in the auction catalogue). § 2-123(b). Once the bidding reaches the reserve, however, the auctioneer is prohibited from bidding any longer for itself or the consignor.
If you're interested, you should be able to find the regulations at this link. In the lefthand column, click on "Rules of the City of New York," then "Title 6 -- Department of Consumer Affairs," then "Chapter 2 -- Licenses," and finally "Subchapter M -- Auctioneers."
UPDATE: Felix Salmon finds the story "peculiar."
"The [settlement] requires Island Treasures Art Gallery ... and artist Marylee Leialoha Colucci to pay [photographer Kim Taylor] Reece $60,000 for attorney's fees .... The stained-glass work at the center of the suit also cannot be publicly displayed, sold or offered for sale .... And Colucci cannot make other works that copy Reece photographs."
Bernstein and Clarida covered this case in the New York Law Journal earlier this year.
UPDATE: "No one wins in this case."
"Up until recently, these institutions have tended to view the stewardship of their art as a public trust, to be passed on to posterity"
"One can sympathize with Fisk, which is in dire financial straits. Ever since it was founded in 1866 as a school for freed slaves, it has teetered on the precipice of bankruptcy. Now, with all of its buildings mortgaged to the hilt, it has turned to this sale as a last resort. This is one case where a sale might do some good to gallery-goers: Fisk has never been able to exhibit its 101-piece collection, a gift from Georgia O’Keeffe, properly. The agreement to share its collection with the new Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas means that the public will at last be able to see such extraordinary works as O’Keeffe’s own Radiator Building, along with major works by Pablo Picasso, Marsden Hartley, and John Marin. Although the O’Keeffe estate is contesting the sale, claiming that it violates the terms of the gift, it cannot claim that the college has acted in bad faith.
"Matters are less clear-cut at Randolph .... While the school pleads financial hardship, it is hardly at the point of shutting its doors."
Meanwhile, in The Roanoke Times, John Long, who teaches history at Roanoke College but is also the director of the Salem Museum, argues that while "there is no legal authority to stop Randolph College from selling the four paintings or even tossing them into a bonfire," it's still wrong to view a museum's collection "as glorified yard sale inventory to be sold off to fund operations of the museum -- and still less of a parent organization like a college."
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Boroff calls the Salander troubles "the biggest U.S. art market mess since the price-fixing scandal at auction houses in the 1990s."
UPDATE: Over at ARTINFO.com, Andrew Goldstein has the definitive summary of what we know so far about Salander's "gradual implosion" over the past three years. The next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
UPDATE: Much more from Heather Goss at DCist.
Monday, October 29, 2007
As Patry points out, under U.S. law bridges are not protected by the 1990 Architectural Works Protection Act "based on a concern that they and related transportation structures are too essential to the public to be tied up in copyright disputes. Moreover, even those works of architecture that were included were denied moral rights."
"Amateur photographers and independent filmmakers ... will not need to obtain permits or insurance under new rules being proposed by the Bloomberg administration. The rules, to be released on Tuesday for public comment, would generally allow people using hand-held equipment, including tripods, to shoot for any length of time on sidewalks and in parks as long as they leave sufficient room for pedestrians. The proposal ... was revised after a passionate outcry over the summer .... Under the first proposal, any group of two or more people using a camera in a public location for more than half an hour, and any group of five or more people using a tripod for more than 10 minutes, would have needed permits and at least $1 million in insurance."
Under the new proposed rules, shoots "that block traffic or leave less than eight feet of open walkway would require permits and a minimum of $1 million in insurance, as would those using vehicles and equipment that is not hand-held. Officials can waive the insurance requirement if an applicant can show that it would create a financial hardship. Filmmakers and photographers who want the comfort of proof that they are entitled to shoot in a public location would be able to get an optional permit, which does not require insurance."
The New York Civil Liberties Union is pleased.
UPDATE: So is Jim Johnson: "This is a resoundingly sensible decision even if the initally proposed regulations ... were stunningly idiotic. ... I guess my view is that the new regulations are a good move but that it would've been much more positive if the process of drafting them had been open rather than taking place behind closed doors in the Mayor's Office."
The proposed rules are now available here. Comments are due Dec. 13.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
"The art business used to be one where people would shake hands and pictures would go out for millions of dollars and everybody got paid"
"Salander is facing a tangle of lawsuits from angry collectors who say he and Salander-O’Reilly defrauded its customers and business partners. The lawsuits accuse him of falling millions of dollars behind on obligations like the rent and the payments he had promised the well-connected people who invested in paintings with him. One lawsuit described the gallery as 'nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.' Some artists’ estates say the gallery sold consigned paintings without their permission for less than the paintings were worth, and never paid them. Some artists’ relatives say they have discovered works entrusted to Salander-O’Reilly in other galleries or museums. The Manhattan district attorney’s office says it has been reviewing complaints about Salander-O’Reilly, and at least one artist’s family has gone to the police."
The article closes by connecting this "tumble" with the recent Berry-Hill Galleries bankrupcty:
"To some dealers, Salander-O’Reilly’s problems bring to mind a scandal that rocked the art world in 2005 and culminated in a bankruptcy filing by another East Side gallery, the Berry-Hill Galleries. ... Ian Peck, the chief executive of a firm that arranges financing for dealers and collectors and that was Berry-Hill’s lead lender, suggested that the Berry-Hill bankruptcy and the Salander-O’Reilly situation point up the pitfalls of the art market, in which it can be hard to figure out who owns a painting, much less what it is really worth."
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
You can see samples of Cao's work here. Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is not impressed.
This isn't Costco's first Art Law Blog appearance. See here.
"A truck driver who stole an art masterpiece from an unattended transport truck, then claimed he found it in his basement was charged with theft .... Steven Lee Olson, 49, was charged with stealing 'Children with a Cart,' a 1778 painting by famed Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The painting was insured at a value of about $1 million. ... The painting was being trucked to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City from Ohio's Toledo Museum of Art last November. It was stolen as the transport drivers spent the night at a Pennsylvania motel. They discovered it missing the next morning. Within days, Olson contacted federal authorities through an attorney to say he found the painting in his basement, said U.S Attorney's office spokesman Michael Drewniak. After a lengthy investigation, authorities determined that Olson, a self-employed truck driver, had lifted the piece himself, Drewniak said."
Thursday, October 25, 2007
First, Judge Lyle ruled in July that Fisk cannot sell O'Keeffe's Radiator Building or Hartley's Painting No. 3 (at least that's how Jonathan Marx reported it in The Nashville Tennessean).
So she set a Sept. trial date on the museum's claims that Fisk violated the conditions of O'Keeffe's gift — and therefore that the entire Stieglitz Collection should be turned over to the museum.
When Fisk and the museum tried to settle those claims (in a manner that would have put about $30 million in the school's coffers), she rejected it, in large part because she believed a better offer had emerged from the Crystal Bridges Museum.
But now, when Fisk comes to get her blessing to accept that better offer, she sets another trial date . . . for February of next year. This, despite the fact that the university has said it expects to run out of money some time in December.
I suppose it's possible that the news reports aren't accurately describing the nature of Hobbs's rulings, but, if they are, I'm at a loss to understand what's going on.
UPDATE: It's not just me.