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Center for Art Law Case Law Updates

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

Chowaika & Co. Fine Arts Ltd., Case No. 17-13228 (MKV) [Carpenter Fine Violins and Collectibles, LLC v. Ezra Chowaiki and David E.R. Danger, 65929/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Nov. 15, 2017), RH9 Group, LLC et al v. Chowaiki, 656930/2017, Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Nov. 15, 2017, Leser v. Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art Ltd. et al, 656870/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty Nov. 12, 2017)]

Three lawsuits filed against Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art corporation precipitated the filing for bankruptcy by the private gallery and art advisory service that was founded in 2004 by Ezra Chowaiki, who is now accused of defrauding clients. The cases are stayed pending the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for SDNY.

Joshua Liner Gallery v. Kagan, 656849/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Nov. 9, 2017) -- The plaintiff, a New York gallery, alleges fraudulent concealment of sales of paintings directly through the defendant's studio in violation of the artist-gallery agreement, as well as a failure to create and deliver a painting to the Gallery in consideration of certain sale goals, and other grievances. The complaint reveals that the Gallery was acting as Kagan's exclusive agent for the sale of artworks produced since 2014, and was entitled to a commission of 50% on any artwork Kagan sold. Kagan's art is slated for exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in 2019.

Berkshire Museum Lawsuits: Two groups of plaintiffs -- members and heirs of Norman Rockwell -- filed two lawsuits in an attempt to enjoin the deaccessioning of 50 artworks in a November 13th Sotheby's auction. The heirs of Norman Rockwell filed a complaint, arguing that the deaccession "violates the museum's establishing statute, promises made to donors and the fiduciary obligations of its trustees." The Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, supported the Rockwell plaintiffs in a filing. The second complaint, brought by members of the Museum, argues that the museum has reneged on its obligations to its supporters by putting the works up for auction. The theory is that because, under Massachusetts law, members of a nonprofit are treated like shareholders in a corporation, the relationship between the corporation and its governing charters and bylaws must be treated like a contract. A hearing was held on November 1, 2017, and the papers (https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/878449/Memo%20of%20Law%20in%20Support%20of%20Ps'%20Emergency%20Mtn%20for%20Ex%20Parte%20Temp%20Rest%20Order%20%20%20Prelim%20Injunction%20After%20Notice%20Agst%20BM'sSale%20of%20Art(B2211764).pdf?t=1510241925709&mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) in support can be (https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/878449/Affidavit%20of%20Stephen%20C.%20Sheppard(B2211547).pdf?t=1510241925709&mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8)found here (https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/878449/Affidavit%20of%20Dan%20L.%20Monroe(B2211546).pdf?t=1510241925709&mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The Court denied the request for an injunction, allowing the planned November 13th sale to proceed (http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts/files/2017/11/Rockwell-Berkshire-Museum-Injunction1.pdf?mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Schmitt v. Artforum International Magazine Inc. et al, 159464-2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Oct. 25, 2017) -- Curator and Art Fair Director Amanda Schmitt, along with eight other women, sued Artforum and Knight Landesman over his alleged sexual harassment (https://www.law360.com/articles/978587/artforum-sued-for-sex-harassment-as-co-publisher-resigns?mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The complaint accuses the publication of allowing Landesman's sexually abusive behavior toward multiple women to occur without consequence. It also claims that the defendant slandered Schmitt and threatened retaliation against current and former employees who might speak about the harassment to the authorities or the press. The plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $500,000 plus attorneys' fees and punitive damages.

Mugrabi v. Mana Contemporary, 159407/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Oct 23, 2017) The Mugrabi family sued Mana Contemporary, which stores works for the dealer family, for preventing the removal of art works from its facility due to unpaid fees (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-23/big-warhol-collector-says-art-is-held-hostage-by-storage-firm?mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Since the filing of the complaint, the court ordered Mana to release some of the works in exchange for a $1 million payment by the Mugrabis (http://theartnewspaper.com/news/new-york-supreme-court-negotiates-release-of-mugrabi-familys-art-from-new-jersey-storage-site?mc_cid=b7b5c56ca4&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Bauer v. Toll, TGI Paris, 7 nov. 2017, n° 17/58735 - The High Court in Paris ruled to restitute a Pissarro painting, "Picking Peas", to the heirs of a Jewish art collector whose art was looted by the French Vichy government. According to the holding, an American couple, Bruce and Robbi Toll, who lent "Picking Peas" to an exhibition in France at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris, did not act in bad faith when they bought the painting from Christie's auction house. In addition, the court did not award the Tolls any compensation for their loss. The painting will continue to be held in escrow in the D'Orsay, pending appeal. Insurance values the painting at over $1 million dollars. (https://www.dalloz-actualite.fr/sites/dalloz-actualite.fr/files/resources/2017/11/doc171117-17112017093540.pdf)

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 December 2, 2017 6:14 PM.

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