As we described in our previous post, percent-for-art programs are successful and popular. However, because there are few common norms in the field or understandings regarding implementation of program initiatives, the importance of thorough negotiations and carefully constructed contracts cannot be overstated.

Continue Reading Public Art Programs: 1% for the 99% – Part Two

The Art Law Blog introduces the first in a series of three articles on "percent-for-art" programs. The common purpose of percent-for-art ordinances is to invigorate the public cultural environment, and to develop and enhance public interest in the visual arts by creating enduring and specific art for public spaces. Some jurisdictions even articulate this goal as their “responsibility”.

Continue Reading Public Art Programs: 1% for the 99% – Part One

By Christine Steiner

In the same era Gerald Ford advised his fellow Americans that “our long national nightmare is over,” as he succeeded Richard Nixon as president, the California Legislation enacted the sloppily-drafted California Resale Royalty Act, Civil Code Section 986. The act was not exactly a nightmare, in truth it slumbered for most of its thirty-plus lifetime. It seemed more honored in the breach than the observance. Recent awareness of the resale royalty obligation, though, has caused confusion and consternation for California sellers, for California artists and for the art trade nationwide. Some have, in fact, described it as a nightmare. As of late last week, the nightmare may be over.

Continue Reading My Fellow Californians – Our Long National Nightmare is Over

By Lano Williams and Christine Steiner

The past year was packed with litigation that ranged from broad constitutional questions to the ever present scourge of forgeries. Art Law Gallery presents highlights of some of the most important cases:

Continue Reading The Year In Review

By Tyler Baker and Christine Steiner

The success of the art market depends largely on confidence in the authenticity of artists’ works. Traditionally, a work in an artist’s “catalogue raisonné” has been key to confirming the authenticity, and thus value. To that point, a recent lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“S.D.N.Y.”) regarding a purported Jackson Pollock work underscores the importance of the catalogue raisonné in pre-purchase due diligence, and shows that omission from the catalogue could be potentially disastrous to the value of a work. See Lagrange v. Knoedler Gallery, LLC, 11-cv-8757 (S.D.N.Y.) (filed Dec. 1, 2011). 

Continue Reading Cherchez les Catalogues Raisonnés

By Lano Williams and Christine Steiner

The recent news that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. will dissolve in early 2012 brings the role of authentication boards in the art world to the fore once again. The Board, which has been charged with authenticating the works of Andy Warhol since 1996, has been the subject of controversy, probably owing more to the nature of Andy Warhol’s art-making process and his fame rather than anything the Board may have done. Warhol was famous for industrializing the art-making process, frequently directing others to execute works on his behalf. The question of what makes a Warhol is subjective and is open to changing interpretation as scholarship develops, as it involves current thinking on what steps of the art-making process the artist must control in order for a piece to be considered attributable to that artist. The Warhol market is also gargantuan. ArtTactic reports that his art accounted for 17% of contemporary art sales at auction in 2010 and 12% of the total contemporary art sold in the first decade of this century.

Continue Reading Authentication Board to Death by Lawsuits

Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced collector, the electricity surrounding an international art fair can overwhelm the senses. Lavish parties, rich history, and the subtle buzz of thousands of business deals endow events like Art Basel, the Venice Biennale, and the upcoming Los Angeles Biennial, planned for 2012, with an air of gravitas that is equal parts charm and distraction. Hopefully, with just a little advice, the prudent collector can cut through the noise and ensure the best possible investment on the best possible terms.

Continue Reading The Prudent Buyer’s Guide to Art Fairs

In recent years, the production of multiples from an original work of art, especially fine art prints, has become a major business in the art world.  What distinguishes a mere poster from a valuable, collectible, fine art print, is usually the scarcity and quality of the work in question. In other words, prints that are produced using high quality materials, hand signed by the artist, and sold in a limited edition are likely to be more collectible (and thus have higher resale values) than posters that are produced using low quality, inexpensive materials, unsigned by the artist, and ubiquitous.

Continue Reading Fine Art Prints in California: Having the Right Paper Matters

Beware of "fortune cookies" for advice, even when it’s not the kind you crack, read, and eat. Just ask Najung Seung, who claims that Mary Dinaburg, a partner at gallery Fortune Cookie Projects, duped her into buying a Julian Schnabel painting entitled Chinkzee for a price three times its market value.  Initially, Seung paid Dinaburg $118,000 for a John Wesley painting entitled Bulls and Bed, only to discover that Dinaburg had sold the painting to someone else.  Rather than returning the payment, Dinaburg offered Seung a $200,000 credit towards the purchase of Chinkzee at the "gallery" price of $380,000, and further represented the painting was worth at least $500,000.  But Seung soon learned that Chinkzee had been sold months earlier at an auction for $156,000 based on an estimate price range of only $60,000 to $80,000, and that the market value was no more than $110,000.  As a result, Seung filed suit against Fortune Cookie Projects, seeking the return of her money based on fraud, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment.

Continue Reading Court Says Don’t Rely on Fortune Cookie for Art Valuation

Defective art” is buzzing up the art scene, but not in that postmodern kind of way. This time, it’s not so cool. For instance, director Steven Spielberg recently dealt with defective title when he discovered that his Norman Rockwell painting, the Russian Schoolroom, had been stolen from a Missouri gallery 16 years earlier. Spielberg has since returned the painting to the FBI, where it sits in custody battle between two other alleged owners. Casino magnate Steve Wynn, on the other hand, accidentally poked the tip of his elbow into his 75-year old Picasso painting, La Reve, leaving the work in defective condition. Wynn had originally struck a deal to sell the painting for a record sum, but is now in court disputing issues concerning loss of value.

Continue Reading Art Insurance: Clean as a Rockwell