Thursday, July 30, 2020

Yet another mural dispute

This one in Oslo.

"But just as one mural controversy is ending, another is beginning."

Another mural-related VARA dispute. Story here.

This one may have a statute of limitations complication: "Carrera says the city violated the statute when it installed the parade mural in 2012. She says she never waived her rights to her painting in writing, a requirement of the law."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"The report said the financial transactions were enabled by the secrecy and anonymity with which the art market operates and it called for tighter rules to force greater transparency." (UPDATED)

New York Times: Senate Report: Opaque Art Market Helped Oligarchs Evade Sanctions.

UPDATE: A deep-dive from Tim Schneider, which ends up here: "The Senate report shows how complicated it can be to unmask the end client when shell companies, anonymous trusts, and legit-on-the-surface intermediaries are involved. Intense due diligence also conflicts with the volume and speed of business they need to do to break even, let alone turn a profit."

"Consistent with VARA, VLS will be reaching out to the artist to determine if he would like to remove the mural within 90 days. If the artist chooses not to remove the mural, the mural will be painted over or otherwise removed. In the meantime, the mural is being temporarily covered."

Story here:

"Painted and installed in the VLS Chase Community Center in 1993, 'The Underground Railroad, Vermont and the Fugitive Slave' 'celebrates the efforts of black and white Americans in Vermont and throughout the United States to achieve freedom and justice,' [the artist's] website says. ... [T]his summer, some current students said the mural 'perpetuates white supremacy, superiority, and the white savior complex,' and that the 'the over-exaggerated depiction of Africans, ... is eerily similar to Sambos, and other anti-black coon caricatures.' VLS on Friday said the Board of Trustees agreed with their concerns ..., but also would allow [the artist] a chance to remove the mural to comply with the Visual Artists Rights Act."

Related stories here and here. The Roberta Smith position -- that "once art has been made and released into the often choppy flow of life, it should stay there" -- seems to be losing ground.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"We liked this variation because it addresses some of the criticisms of the Siegelaub-Projansky contract (that only successful artists benefit from its use), and that it redistributes wealth to produce social good ...."

More on Kadist's new resale royalty contract, mentioned earlier here.

If we assume the problem a resale royalty is meant to address is the unfairness to the artist that results when a work significantly increases in value from its first sale ... I'm not sure how this solves that problem. This feels more like a tax on the sale proceeds, with the taxes earmarked for charity (albeit one the artist gets to designate). It's like a consolation prize: the artist herself doesn't get to share in the increase in value, but a charity she likes does. If you thought someone owed you $1,000 (and I think that's part of the case for resale royalties: that the artist has a moral claim to a share of the proceeds her work generates) and they said they wouldn't pay it to you but would instead give it to a charity of your choice, is that the same thing? Would that make you whole? I think you'd feel it was better than nothing, but, depending on how strong your connection to the charity is, not quite justice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

"Each of the former workers is expected to receive about 10 weeks of pay, said Daniel B. Rojas, one of the lawyers who represented them."

NYT: Marciano Foundation Settles Lawsuit Over Layoffs.

The settlement costs them about $200,000, plus they agreed to pay $70,000 in legal fees to the employees' lawyers.

Background here.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Five Years for Art Fraud

The Art Newspaper: "Philip Righter, 43, pleaded guilty to three felony charges—wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and tax fraud—in a case filed in Los Angeles. He admitted to selling works he falsely claimed were created by artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kurt Schwitters and Roy Lichtenstein. According to a statement from the US Attorney’s office, Righter also admitted to using the fake art as collateral for loans on which he later defaulted ...."

Previously mentioned here.

"Protest Art Fate Tied to Obscure, Rarely Litigated Copyright Law"

That law being VARA. Story here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Inigo Indicted

Alex Greenberger has the story at ARTnews.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

"The lawsuit could serve as a cautionary tale ... for galleries moving more heavily into online sales."

The Art Newspaper: Painter Pat Lipsky sues over digitally ‘distorted’ images of her work.

This is interesting:

"Lipsky is suing under New York State’s 1984 Artist Authorship Rights Act, ... a precursor to the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act .... Megan E. Noh, a partner at the New York law firm Pryor Cashman who is representing the artist, says that the federal statute 'does not apply to the distortion of images of artworks but only to the physical distortion and destruction of the actual work,' while the older New York law expressly covers reproductions, such as photographs used for sales purposes."

Thursday, July 09, 2020

"Nahmad received a WhatsApp message from Russian magnate Leonid Friedland, the CEO of Phillips’s parent company, noting that the guarantee could be cancelled in the case of 'natural disaster, fire, flood, general strike, war, terrorist attack… or chemical contamination.'"

artnet's Eileen Kinsella:  Art dealer Joe Nahmad is suing Phillips after the auction house pulled out of a $5 million guarantee deal for a work by Rudolf Stingel.


"The controversy in Lexington, Ky., is similar to one at a San Francisco high school, where a series of murals depicting the life of George Washington upset students and parents because they showed scenes of slaves at work in the fields and barns of Washington’s Mount Vernon and, in one, Washington pointing westward over the dead body of a Native American man."

The New York Times: Students’ Calls to Remove a Mural Were Answered. Now Comes a Lawsuit.

On the similar San Francisco case -- where "the high school’s alumni association later sued, and there has not yet been a final conclusion in the legal battle" -- see here.

The plaintiff in the Kentucky case is Wendell Berry — "the writer, farmer and longtime Kentuckian" and whose wife (and co-plaintiff) is a niece of the artist who painted the mural.

Here is the complaint.

Interestingly, "at the center of the Berrys’ lawsuit is the argument that the mural is held in trust by the university, on behalf of the public."

Held in the public trust!

Kentucky-based conceptual law professor Brian Frye tweets: "I will confess that I see no basis for standing nor any viable claim. Removing the mural may or may not be the right call, but it's up to the University."