Monday, February 02, 2009

Rose Break (UPDATED 2X)

Let's take a look at some other art law stories besides the closing of the Rose. Start with a settlement of the closely-watched lawsuit mentioned in the "update" here. The New York Times's Randy Kennedy reports:

"Two museums announced Monday that they had reached a settlement with heirs of the original owner of two Picasoo paintings . . . who contended that they had been sold under duress in Nazi Germany. The terms of the agreement, reached as a trial was about to begin in federal court in Manhattan, were not disclosed. But [MoMA] and the [Guggenheim] said in a statement that they would continue to own the works. ... In 2007 lawyers for Julius H. Schoeps, a great-nephew of the paintings’ original owner, Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, told the museums that they believed Mr. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a German Jewish banker who died in 1935, had sold the works ... under duress, and demanded their return."

UPDATE: More coverage from Lee Rosenbaum.

UPDATE 2: Good analysis from Richard Lacayo: "As with most settlements the details of this one are sealed, so we may never know whether or how much money changed hands. And by itself the mere fact that the two museums chose to settle doesn't mean they didn't have faith in their own arguments. (Or, for that matter, that the plaintiffs didn't have faith in theirs.) But jury trials are a crapshoot and for the museums at least, the paintings were too important to lose."