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.