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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:

Halperin v. Gfoeller, 657184/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Dec. 3, 2017) -- after the defendant refused to refund the sale price, a complaint was filed on behalf of an Israeli resident alleging breaches of contract and express warranty based on a 2008 sale of a painted wooden mask attributed by Juan Gris.

Catlin, The Estate of Thomas Lopresti and William Beauty v. Hogan and Christie's, Inc., 160370/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY Cnty. Nov. 21, 2017) -- The plaintiffs allege tortious activities on behalf of the defendants with regard to a unique numbered Andy Warhol screen print "Electric Chair." Whereas Hogan was a co-owner of the artwork, he consigned the work to Christie's without notifying other owners. The work was sold in May of 2006. According to the complaint, the other joint owners of the work learned of the sale in 2016.

Tobin v. The Rector, Church Wardens, and Vestrymen of Trinity Church, in the City of New York, 17 Civ. 2622 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2017) -- J.Schofield dismissed the Visual Arts Rights Act (VARA) violation complaint brought by an artist against the Trinity Church and others, because in 2004 the artist transferred all of his rights, including copyright in the contested work, to Trinity. The court found that "simply relocating The Trinity Root does not by itself constitute distortion, mutilation or modification under VARA." As to the site-specific nature of the art, the court applied the 7th Circuit decision in Kelly v. Chicago Park Dist., 635 F.3d 290 (2011) to find that unless gross negligence can be established site-specific work is not protected under VARA.

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 agains Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art corporation have precipitated the filing for bankruptcy by the private gallery and art advisory service 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 decision.

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 Joshua Liner Gallery (Gallery) in consideration of certain sail goals, and other grievances. The complaint reveals that the Gallery was acting as the Artist'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 on 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 planned 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 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. The Court denied the request for an injunction, allowing the planned November 13th sale to proceed.

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. 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 out against 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. 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.

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 31, 2017 2:46 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Week in Review (12/23).

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