Delivery Dilemma

Blue Art Limited, a UK company (“Blue Art”), is suing art dealer David Zwirner and his gallery, a contemporary art gallery in New York and London, for breach of contract and fraudulent concealment and inducement, regarding an unnamed piece by an undisclosed artist.  Blue Art is owned by Old Master art dealer Fabrizio Moretti who has galleries in Florence, London and New York.  The complaint was filed on July 20, 2016 in New York state court (Docket No. 653810/2016).

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Update: I Swear It’s Not Mine – Artist Sued for Denying He Created Art Piece

Yesterday, August 23, 2016, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman reached a verdict in the authentication case against Peter Doig. He stated that Doig “could not have been the author of the work”, but rather in all likelihood Pete Doige created the piece of artwork. In reaching his verdict, Judge Feinerman mentioned that Doig was in high school in Toronto at the time when he was alleged to have been in prison, as evidenced by yearbook photos.

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I Swear It’s Not Mine – Artist Sued for Denying He Created Art Piece

Artist Peter Doig, whose pieces regularly sell for $10 million, is currently entangled in a rare and rather odd lawsuit, which involves a work Doig denies he created. While disputes of the authenticity of pieces of artwork are not uncommon, typically the artist is deceased when the dispute arises. However, even in the rare cases where the dispute arises while the artist is alive, the artist disputes the artwork under the Visual Artists Rights Act, as adopted in 1990, which allows an artist to prevent the use of his or her name as the author of any work which has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in a way that is prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation. Here, however, the artist is alive and simply denies having created the artwork altogether.

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Don’t Cry Over Spilled Paint — Sue! VARA Claim Filed Against Detroit Real Estate Company

News of up-and-coming Detroit-based artist, Katherine Craig, splattered across headlines in the art world when she recently filed a lawsuit under Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The complaint requests injunctive relief against the new owner of the building on which her mural is displayed, asserting that the building owner’s plans for renovation and/or sale threaten to “deface, modify, mutilate, or destroy” the art in violation of Ms. Craig’s rights granted under VARA.

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Politics – The Invisible Force Behind China Artist and Art Market

After a period of significant growth from 2009 to 2014, the Chinese art market has experienced a drastic decline in the first half of 2015 with reports that the fine art auction turnover contracted at 30% less than the 2014 period. Interestingly, Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most well-known and most controversial contemporary artists, has not been affected by this turn in the market. The divergence between the general downward trend in the Chinese art market and the increasing value of Ai Weiwei’s work illustrates how politics in China continues to have a substantial impact on the trajectory of the market and the artists in seemingly contradictory ways. Continue Reading

Crime Doesn’t Pay (as much as it used to) – FBI Cracks Down on Trade of Looted Syrian and Iraqi Cultural Artifacts

In support of the international crackdown on the black market trade of looted cultural artifacts, the FBI recently announced that art dealers may be prosecuted for engaging in the trade of stolen Iraqi and Syrian antiquities. Terrorist organizations such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”) have pillaged these countries of their cultural relics for sale on the black market. Many find their way into the hands of art dealers and collectors in the Europe or even United States. In response, the FBI released an alert titled “ISIL Antiquities Trafficking” on August 25, 2015. Perhaps most strikingly, this alert warns that engaging in the purchase of these looted artifacts may constitute a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2339A[1] for providing financial support to terrorist organizations. Continue Reading

The Artist’s Legacy – Business and Legal Planning Issues

Sheppard Mullin attorneys Christine Steiner and Lauren Liebes recently joined Weston Naef, Getty Photography Curator Emeritus, and ASA appraiser Jennifer Stoots for “What Will Become of Your Legacy”, a panel discussion at Los Angeles Center of Photography.  The panel addressed business and estate planning issues for photographers.

Below is the text of a handout on business and legal planning issues prepared by Christine Steiner.  In our next post, Lauren Liebes will address the myriad estate planning issues to consider.

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Last Wishes, First Impression: Potential legal issues arise after Munich recluse passes away, bequeathing Nazi-looted art to a Swiss museum

Cornelius Gurlitt’s notarized will, which did not surface until after his unexpected death this past May, lists the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland as the heir to his vast art collection, which included works by Matisse, Dix, and Chagall. The unusual legal issue here: one month before his death, Conelius Gurlitt agreed to return all Nazi-looted artworks in his possession to the offspring of the rightful owners.

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