The Hammer Falls on the First Major Blockchain-based Art Auction

Christie’s made history again last night during its evening sale, An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, at 20 Rockefeller Center in New York. This time, the history was not in the form of a record-setting sale (though the sale brought in $317.8 million), but as the first major art auction to be recorded by distributed ledger technology. Christie’s teamed with Artory, a company that operates an art-focused, blockchain-based registry, to securely register and track the provenance of over 90 artworks that were offered in the sale. Continue Reading

“Bank For Your Buck” – The Legal Implications of Banksy’s Destruction of “Girl with Balloon”

For centuries, artists have been celebrated for pushing boundaries and shaping how society should view art. As members of the audience, we rely on artists to expose us to these unique dimensions of thought and we return the favor by placing value on their creations. For the past twenty years, one anonymous artist has continuously thrilled his audience by publicly displaying his work throughout the streets of major cities. Banksy, as the public knows him, has once again shocked his audience, this time at the Sotheby’s auction of one of his most famous graffiti pieces, “Girl with Balloon.” Continue Reading

Masterpiece by Bernardo Bellotto Purchased by London National Gallery Consequent to Temporary Export Bar

Introduction

Art export laws are designed to prevent art and artifacts of significant cultural value from leaving its country of origin while also preserving the home country’s competitiveness in the international art market. Many countries have struggled with striking the right balance: Germany’s recent amendment to its cultural heritage protection law in June 2016 was fiercely opposed by the country’s private collectors and art dealers who are now required to obtain an export license for works older than 50 years that are valued over £150,000. Italy sought to achieve balance between government and individual interests by increasing the threshold for artworks from 50 to 70 years under its amendment passed in August 2017. The following article written by Dr. Linda Roland Danil explores the UK’s efforts to resolve these competing interests—as complicated by the post-Brexit exchange rate—in the context of the recent, successful export ban on Bernardo Bellotto’s masterpiece, The Fortress of Königstein from the North. Continue Reading

Not What I Signed Up For: CA’s New Autograph Law

Effective January 1, 2017, art dealers operating in California will have a new certificate of authenticity requirement.  AB 1570, recently signed into law by Governor Brown, requires a certificate of authenticity for all autographed items sold for over $5.  The new law is an expansion of CA Civil Code §1739.7, which had regulated autographed sports memorabilia.  AB 1570 removes the “sports” limitation, potentially bringing all non-sports autographs, including art, within its purview.

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Just Between Us: Buyer of Rothko Painting Sued for Breach of Confidentiality

Confidentiality provisions are not a new or novel inclusion in agreements for the sale of assets, let alone the sale of artwork. However, the extremely drawn out case of Hoffman v. L&M Arts, et al, presents a rather odd view on the scope and nature of confidentiality provisions within the art law context. Specifically, it provides buyers and sellers of artwork with important advice for the inclusion and construction of confidentiality provisions in future sales. The case also presents the interesting issue of whether a confidentiality provision requiring that the transaction for the sale of artwork remain confidential can preclude the future sale of the work.

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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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