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Center for Art Law Case Updates

The following case selection first appeared in this week's Center for Art Law newsletter:

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation v. Grutman et al., 2D14-3794 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Jan. 6, 2016) -- Florida's Second District Court of Appeals upheld the trial courts decision to award $24,600,000 to be split evenly among the three trustees of the Robert Rauschenberg Revocable Trust. The Florida statute addressing trustee fees provides only that the award be "reasonable under the circumstances" without providing any criteria or methodology. § 736.0708(1), Fla. Stat. (2007). Looking at the legislative history, the court determined that the legislature intended to apply the criteria set forth in West Coast Hospital Ass'n v. Florida Nat'l Bank of Jacksonville, 100 So. 2d 807 (Fla. 1958). Thus, the court properly followed West, the methodology proposed by the trustees.

Kosse v. Kiesza, no. 1:16-cv-00160 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 2016) -- Jamie Mitchel Kosse filed claims for copyright infringement and false endorsement against singer Kiesza (whose real name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad) and Universal Music Group. Kosse's grafitti in Williamsburg was featured as the background in Kiesza's music video for "Hideaway" without his permission. In the past, his work has been used by NBC, CBS, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios with a license.

Heiden v. Main Field Projects, No. 650202/2016 (NY Sup. Jan. 15, 2016) - Main Field Projects failed to ship two works of art by Ibrahim Mahama to the residence of Miety Heiden.

Gagosian Gallery, Inc. v. Pelham Europe, Ltd., No. 1:16-cv-00214 (S.D.N.Y. Jan 12, 2016) -- Action to quiet title to a Picasso bust currently on loan to MoMA. Gagosian alleges ownership over the work and has contracted with a third party to sell the work. Pelham is attempting to enforce a prior agreement to purchase the work.

Heriveaux et al v. The Retrospect Group, Inc. et al, No. 1:15-cv-05536 (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 16, 2015) -- Defendants were using copyrighted Basquiat works in stationary. The case was dismissed with prejudice.

Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London Subscribing to Policy No. B1161A143678 a/s/o Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Inc., v. Elite Systematic Arts, Inc. et al, No. 1:16-cv-734 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 11, 2016) -- American Airlines and seven art handling companies are being sued by Lloyd's of London, the insurer of a sculpture that was allegedly damaged while it was shipped from Paris to New York for the Armory Show last year. Lloyd's insured the sculpture for Marc Selwyn Fine Art, a gallery in Beverly Hills, and is claiming breach of contract and negligence. USA v. Roohparvar, No. 3:16-cr-00096-CRB (N.D. Cal. Mar. 8, 2016). -- A Saratoga resident, Shahram "Ron" Roohparvar, has been charged with illegally selling art pieces constructed from elephant ivory (a practice banned since 1976). This is not Roohparvar's first rodeo with the law; in the past he has faced other federal criminal charges for money laundering.

Sotheby's, Inc. v. Mao et al., 652283/2015 (NY Sup. Jun. 25, 2015) --Sotheby's is suing Christophe Mao and the gallery he owns, Chambers Fine Art LLC. Mao has failed to pay over $2.1 million that he borrowed from Sotheby's after signing a Secured Revolving Loan and Sale Agreement.

Max v. Moskowitz et. al., No. 162953/2015 (NY Sup. Dec. 22, 2015) -- Mary Max, wife of artist Peter Max, filed suit against his agent, ALP, Inc. (a company that runs the NJ warehouse where Ms. Max claims she stored her paintings), and two of Peter Max's children for stealing 82 paintings. The paintings were stored in a warehouse and Ms. Max claims they are worth more than $4.2 million. The family has recently been embroiled in a public scandal covered in New York tabloids.

Fisher v. Petr Konchalovsky Foundation et al., No. 1:15-CV-09831 (SDNY Dec. 17, 2015) -- Richard Fisher of Malibu is suing the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation, saying that when he bought the oil painting "Still Life with Grinder" in 1991 from Sotheby's, the organization declared it an authentic work by Konchalovsky, a Russian artist. In 2012, Fisher decided to sell the work and asked Sotheby's in New York to auction it, but the foundation claimed it wasn't authentic. The Moscow-based foundation did not examine the work, dated 1920, and instead relied on photos, Fisher alleges.

Sam Francis Foundation v. Christie's, Inc. (9th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 795 (Jan. 11, 2016) -- The Supreme Court has declined to hear artists' resale royalty suit against auction houses like Christie's, Sotheby's and eBay. Artists like Chuck Close argue these auction houses are failing to pay royalties, which they claim is in direct violation of the California Resale Royalties Act of 1976. New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is the lead proponent of the ART Act, which will directly address the royalty issues if passed by Congress.

Mlinar v. United Parcel Service Inc. et al., No. SC14-54 (Fla. 2016) -- The Supreme Court of Florida recently reinstated an art theft lawsuit between artist Ivana Vidovic Mlinar and three defendants - Pak Mail, a South Florida packing store, the United Parcel Service Co. (UPS), and Cargo Largo, UPS's lost goods contractor. The suit alleges that these parties stole Mlinar's work, profited from the theft of her paintings, used her name or likeness without Mlinar's authorization, and, finally, that the defendants violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The Center for Art Law strives to create a coherent community for all those interested in law and the arts. Positioned as a centralized resource for art and cultural heritage law, it serves as a portal to connect artists and students, academics and legal practitioners, collectors and dealers, government officials and others in the field. In addition to the weekly newsletter (http://cardozo.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801&id=022731d685), the Center for Art Law subscribers receive updates about art and law-related topics through its popular art law blog (http://itsartlaw.com/blog/)and calendar of events (http://itsartlaw.com/events/). The Center for Art Law welcomes inquiries and announcements from firms, universities and student organizations about recent publications, pending cases, upcoming events, current research and job and externship opportunities. To contact the Center for Art Law, visit our website at: www.itsartlaw.com or write to itsartlaw@gmail.com.

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