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The Center for Art Law Updates

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

9-Year Sentence for Smashing Timbuktu Shrines: According to the case information sheet for the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, the first individual to be accused of a war crime in relation to destruction of cultural heritage, the accused first appeared before the court on September 30, 2015. A year later he was found guilty of the crimes perpetuated in 2012 and imprisoned for ordering attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion in Timbuktu, Mali. Who's next?

Israel's Ministry of Culture Sued by Artists and Museums: Under threat from policies that limit freedom of expression, a group of Israeli artists, museum directors and art educators filed a lawsuit in July against the country's Ministry of Culture. As reported by The Art Newspaper, in the lawsuit they demand disclosure of criteria for decision-making from the culture ministry and the Israeli Council for Culture and Art.

It ain't Doig! In an authentication case that should have been dismissed on a summary judgement motion, Judge Gary Feinerman finally ruled that the living art-defendant in Fletcher v. Doig did not create a landscape painting attributed to him by plaintiff. According to Feinerman any similarities between the desert scene on the claim and Mr. Doig's paintings were "purely coincidental."

Ulay v. Marina Dutch court ruled that Abramović had to pay royalties to her former partner in art and life, Frank Uwe Laysiepen, from profits made on sale of works made jointly. As is true under the US Copyright law, coauthors cannot stop each other from exploiting the works they create but may be held accountable for their share of the proceeds from the sale of the property.

HEAR Act: HEAR stands for Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016. This Bill would provide the victims of Holocaust-era persecution and their heirs a fair opportunity to recover works of art confiscated or misappropriated by the Nazis is making its way through the Congress. On September 29th it was placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 654.

ISA 2nd Act: Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act that passed Committee on the Judiciary on September 15th has been characterized as placating the Russians who are refusing to loan art works to the United States for fear of having cultural diplomacy turn ugly and give rise to seizures. The bill is proposed to amend Immunity from seizure sections of the United States Code and as such it is widely lauded by museum administrators but not attorneys who represent individual claimants trying to recover their looted property.

On the Radar: Von Saher v. Norton Simon notifies of appeal to the 9th Cir (Sept. 9, 2016).

Rouse v. Elliot Stevens, Ltd., 13-CV-01443 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) - British tourist Christopher Rouse is suing an art gallery and antiques shop which sold him allegedly fraudulent art deco sculptures by the artist Demétre Chiparus. The gallery, located in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria, told Rouse that the sculptures were made from molds that were in the artist's possession when he died in the hotel. Rouse later learned that Chipraus actually died in Paris. His suit alleges that the sculptures are Chinese forgeries copied from photographs.

U.S. v. Maritime Exchange Museum, 2:2016cv13198 (E.D. Mich. 2016) - The federal government has filed suit against a Michigan museum, seeking a judgment declaring them owners of two 19th century lighthouse lenses in the museum's possession and ordering their return to the government. The complaint describes the lenses as "irreplaceable historic artifact[s] of great beauty" and estimates their value at $600,000 in total.

Green v. Nat'l Gallery of Art, London, 1:16-cv-06978 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 7, 2016) - The purported heirs to a Matisse painting, "Portrait of Greta Moll"(1908), are suing the National Gallery of Art, London, for its possession and $30 million in damages. Greta Moll's relatives allege the painting was lost during the Allies' occupation of Germany and, therefore, its acquisition violates international law. The defendants argue that (1) they performed their due diligence in purchasing the painting in 1979, and (2) because the Allied occupation of Germany came after the fall of the Third Reich and end of World War II, the painting is not protected by the international laws on which the plaintiffs rely.

Baldwin v. Boone, 654807/2016 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Sep. 12, 2016) -- Actor Alec Baldwin has filed suit in New York against Mary Boone and her eponymous gallery, alleging the defendant intentionally deceived him by delivering to him a copy of Ross Bleckner's painting Sea and Mirror (1996) after he paid her $190,000 to obtain the original for him. Baldwin is seeking treble damages from the plaintiff.

Blue Art Ltd. v. Zwirner, 653810/2016 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. 2016) Dealer Fabrizio Moretti has filed suit in Manhattan against dealer David Zwirner seeking $6 million in damages, alleging that Zwirner offered to sell him a Jeff Koons sculpture which was still in production at the time of the transaction. However, according to the complaint the exact identity of the work was not agreed upon and it is worth much less than Moretti paid.

Magnum Photos Int'l v. Houk Gallery, 16 CV 7030 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 8, 2016) Magnum Photos International has filed a complaint in federal court in Manhattan alleging that Houk Gallery violated its copyrights in several photographs taken by the late Henri Cartier-Bresson. Magnum, as exclusive licensee of the copyrights in the photographs at issue, alleges that Houk, without authorization, used the photos on its website to promote exhibitions in 2009 and 2013.


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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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 30, 2016 5:28 PM.

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