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 for providing financial support to terrorist organizations. Continue Reading
In our last blog post, Christine Steiner addressed artists’ business and legal challenges. In this post, Lauren Liebes will address unique issues artist face when making gifts to family and friends of visual art they have created. Continue Reading
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.
With the June passage of New York Senate bill S7890 and Assembly bill A10143, the Empire State’s elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn trade may be approaching extinction.
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.
Recently, the high court of appeals in Paris upheld an art expert’s right to refuse to authenticate a work of art. While this decision took nine years to come to fruition, it validates an art expert’s freedom to make an authenticity determination that he or she sees fit, free from the pressures of legal liability for that decision.
Readers will recall that in 2012 the U.S. District Court struck down the California Resale Royalties Act, holding that the 1970s-era law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
On January 23rd, in a rare public appearance, Jasper Johns testified against a New York foundry owner, Brian Ramnarine, who was charged with creating unauthorized sculptures, including a fraudulent Johns “Flag” sculpture which Ramnarine allegedly made from the original mold and attempted to sell for $11 million. Johns testified that the sculpture was not authorized, the signature was forged and the certificate of authenticity was a fake. Ramnarine pled guilty to three counts of wire fraud in Manhattan federal court, admitting that he had tried to sell unauthorized sculptures of Johns and other artists.
In late 2012, we reported on a New York Appellate Division order that sent shockwaves and fear of instability through the auction house world. Late last month, the New York Court Appeals issued its opinion in the case of William J. Jenack Estate Appraisers and Auctioneers, Inc. v. Rabizadeh, overturning the Appellate Division and ruling that an auctioneer need not disclose the actual name of the owner who has consigned the work. The Court ruled that only disclosure of the name of the auctioneer would satisfy New York’s Statute of Frauds. The decision reverses the earlier opinion and re-permits the long-established practice of anonymity with regard to the names of owners of auctioned works.
When public institutions are suffering from financial deficits, one question is usually raised: can they sell art to survive? In the museum world it is generally understood that you are to deaccession art only if the work is duplicative of another work in the collection, or for similar collections-related reasons, and the sale proceeds are used exclusively for collections activities. Therefore, for example, you cannot seek to sell art to obtain sufficient liquidity to meet any financial obligation, or make debt service payments. There is little government regulation on deaccessioning (for example, the NY Board of Regents has the power to provide limitations on deaccessioning on New York museums chartered after 1890). However, private institutions such as the American Alliance of Museums (“AAM”) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (“AAMD”) have adopted for their members certain policy guidelines on deaccessioning. Their members are subject to sanctions such as censure, suspension and/or expulsion in the event they do not follow these guidelines.