Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Stolen Picasso Painting Discovered in Newark"

"The stolen picture was sent to New Jersey via FedEx."

"Arrest of Swiss Freeport Owner Yves Bouvier Over Art Fraud Ring Rocks Art World"

Says artnet news.  More details on the alleged scam in the Telegraph.  Kimberly Bradley asks:  "Is this surprising?"

Nouriel Roubini on why art is an asset class

Self-recommending, as they say.

Elizabeth Taylor Estate v. Christie's

Over the cancellation of a $9 million diamond sale.  Law360 story here.  Courthouse News Service here.   Complaint here.

"Cuba refuses to return seized art . . ."

". . . despite thaw in relations with US."

In related news, artist Tania Bruguera, "the first person to publicly test the tolerance level of the Cuban government following the announcement last December that Cuba and the United States were restoring diplomatic relations – remains detained on the island, accused by its regime of inciting public disorder."

"In front of something like this, we are speechless."

There were reports this week (complete with video) that ISIS fighters had "ransacked Mosul’s central museum, destroying priceless artefacts that are thousands of years old."  The Met (among others) issued a statement condemning the destruction as "a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding."  But there were later reports that "according to archaeologists, most if not all the statues in the Mosul museum are replicas not originals. The reason they crumble so easily is that they're made of plaster."  Leading LA Times art critic Christopher Knight to wonder: "If smashed Mosul Museum sculptures were replicas, is ISIS' propaganda video (gross) performance art?"

25 Years of Theories

Also this week, a fascinating piece in the NYT on the Gardner heist, still the largest art theft in American history (and still unsolved).

"[B]y one measure — money — Mr. Lik may well be the most successful fine-art photographer who ever lived"

Was traveling this week and still playing catch-up, but lots of art law to mention.  First up is this really interesting NYT story on photographer Peter Lik, who operates completely outside the establishment art world ... and apparently has sold almost $440 million worth of work.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is how thin the secondary market for his work is -- the fact that, as the Times article puts it, "anyone buying his work assuming that it will appreciate is all but certainly in for an unhappy surprise."  Georgina Adam calls it "a cautionary tale."  The Art Market Monitor says "[w]hat’s going on here isn’t hard to figure out. Lik is the latest iteration in business that provides affluent buyers with a vacation experience they can boast about for years after at home. Park West Gallery ran 'auctions' on cruise ships for years where buyers were thrilled to play at bidding on prints that were available other places for cheaper prices. [Thomas] Kinkade had a chain of mall stores at the height of his popularity."  Sarah Cascone rounds up other reactions.

On the legal side, lawprof David Zaring wonders:  "Is this okay?  It's not like you should be able to sue any artist who sells you art that doesn't gain in value ....  And it's not like Lik's in house gallerists have a special duty of care towards potential purchasers.  And common law fraud is a last resort kind of claim, it seems to me.  But boy, the way the those photos are sold...the article is full of dodgy representations by seemingly well-coached, and honest sounding salespeople.  This might be the kind of profile that establishes that yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"It seems a month doesn’t go by without another artist being accused of copyright infringement."

Boodle Hatfield on the latest complaint against Richard Prince:  "This is another important example of copyright law being tested by digital developments. Again, it will be up to the courts to decide whether digital images are just another material that artists should be able to use like paint, or whether making money from another person’s creativity should always be forbidden."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tell me again about the public trust (employment opportunity edition) (UPDATED)

A great job listing at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass.

Thanks to a loyal reader for the pointer.

UPDATE:  Another loyal reader points out that the job qualifications do not include any knowledge of "ethics."  Strange.

"The Artist Who Cried Copycat"

From the Art Market Monitor.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Another Prince Claim (UPDATED 2X)

Hrag Vartanian has the details at Hyperallergic.  My friend Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is representing the photographer this time.

UPDATE:  Interesting take from Shane Ferro.

UPDATE 2:  New York Times story here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

They may as well have said: try to make sure your fair uses are fair

The College Art Association has released a "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use" and it's been getting a lot of attention.  You can read it here.  We talked about this in class last week and the consensus was it's pretty useless.  It says things like "artists should avoid uses of existing copyrighted material that do not generate new artistic meaning."  And "the use of preexisting work ... should be justified by the artistic objective."

I don't see how that brings much clarity to the issue.

"Could the 21st-century contemporary art boom be a bubble that never really bursts?"

Scott Reyburn in the NYT.  Or maybe it's not a bubble at all.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Suggested Dismissal Affirmed

The First Department has affirmed the dismissal of (most of) the lawsuit challenging the Met's admission policies.  The decision is here.  Good summary from Nicholas O'Donnell here.  Brian Boucher tweets "thank goodness, this stupid suit against the [museum] is finally done with" ... but that's not quite right.  As I explained after the lower court decision, "the part of the lawsuit alleging that the museum misleads people into thinking the admission fee is mandatory ... survives."

Friday, February 06, 2015

Corcoran Update (UPDATED)

Thorough report from Randy Kennedy in the Times.

UPDATE:  More from Holland Cotter:  "[T]he [Corcoran] had limited exhibition space and could show only a fraction of its holdings of 17,000 works. Now nearly half of them are being absorbed into the National Gallery of Art. And maybe just as important, the remainder will be parceled out to other Washington-area museums, raising the chances that, with a little schlepping, we’ll eventually be able to see more of the Corcoran than we could when it was intact."

Thursday, February 05, 2015

"We just can’t allow artists to be priced out of New York City." (UPDATED)

Mayor De Blasio announced a plan to build 1,500 affordable housing units for artists.

Whitney Kimball is not impressed.

UPDATE:  Michael Rushton asks:  "Are there studies that show, given opportunity costs, subsidized artists' housing is cost-effective arts policy?"

That not-so-secret secret sales tax investigation makes it to the New York Times

Graham Bowley and Robin Pogrebin reporting.  Earlier post here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

"Judge Cedarbaum, interestingly, made no reference to the UCC, engaged in no specific discussion of the sale of art works, and did not rely on anything other than the most general descriptions of fraud and mutual mistake."

Steve Schindler and Katie Wilson-Milne were not impressed with the decision in ACA Galleries v. Kinney.

"It's important to realize that all visual culture is fair game for artistic content ..."

". . . ‘appropriation' isn't a ‘kind' of work, it's almost all art. When making a painting or a print or a sculpture, it's nearly impossible to make something without thinking of something else. A good reminder that when dealing with images 1) once an image is used, it isn't dead. it can be recontextualized, redistributed, reimagined. 2) It should have several lives and exist in different scenarios."

A quote from one of the artists involved in this story by Brian Boucher at artnet:  When Is Artist-on-Artist Theft Okay?

"Prosecutors asked the judge to toss Morse back in jail Monday for defaulting on her restitution agreement." (UPDATED 2X)

The latest on former Salander director Leigh Morse.

UPDATE:  More coverage from Philip Boroff here.

UPDATE 2:  More from Fox Rothschild:  "It is not clear why Morse has not done more to make the restitution payments.  However, Morse owns a number of properties with her husband some of which are located in Pennsylvania, a tenancy by the entireties (TBE) state.  Owning property as TBE can be used to shield assets from creditors of just one spouse."

Sunday, February 01, 2015