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

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

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

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

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.

Continue Reading The Artist’s Legacy – Business and Legal Planning Issues

We conclude our series on public art and percent-for-art programs by focusing on a recent case involving the respected American sculptor, Alice Aycock. The artist’s sculpture, Star Sifter, was created in 1998 for the John F. Kennedy Airport, New York City. The recent lawsuit was prompted by the planned removal, and thereby destruction, of the commissioned work of art.

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

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