« Week In Review | Main | Week in Review »

Center for Art Law Case Law Updates

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

Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 583 U.S. ___ (2018). On February 21st, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that victims of an Iran-sponsored terrorist bombing cannot seize Iran's "Persepolis Collection" at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute to fulfill payment of the damages they were previously awarded (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/terror-victims-cannot-seize-iranian-antiquities-us-supreme-court-rules?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The Court held that a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act did not remove the requirement of commercial activity from the Act's bar on seizure of a sovereign nation's assets unless the assets are used in commercial activities within the United States. The full opinion is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-534_6jfm.pdf?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8.

Tananbaum v. Gagosian Gallery, Inc. et al, No. 651889/2018 (NY Sup. Ct., filed on April 19, 2018). In September 2013, a private collector signed a contract with Jeff Koons and the Gagosian Gallery, whereby they would deliver to him three sculptures worth more than $13 million. Five years later, he filed a complaint (available at https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=mDyDl8p2L9a_PLUS_SP1ONEOyUA==&mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) against the two kings of the New York art scene, condemning a Ponzi-like fraudulent scheme (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/legal-battle-over-modigliani-painting-rumbles-on?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Silver v. Gagosian Gallery, Inc., No. 652090/2018 (Sup. Ct. NY, filed on April, 27, 2018) This is the second lawsuit filed in eight days against defendant Gagosian Gallery (http://www.artnews.com/2018/04/30/citing-frustration-purchase-8-m-jeff-koons-sculpture-producer-joel-silver-sues-gagosian-gallery/?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) in connection with its prospective sale of multi-million dollar sculptures by artist Jeff Koons. According to the complaint, plaintiff Silver, a film producer, paid $8 million for a sculpture "Balloon Venus" in 2014 and he is yet to see the yellow goddess emerge from Koons' studio. "Frustrated by the delay and skeptical when, if ever," the sculpture he wanted would be done, Silver asked for his money back and learned that he would be forfeiting $3.2 million if he were to stop making payments on the revised payment plan. The plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment and alleges breach of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs law. The complaint is available upon request.

Madonna Ciccone v. Gotta Have It Collectibles, No. 156454/2017 (Sup. Ct. NY, April 23, 2018) In July 2017, Gotta Have Rock and Roll held an auction of Madonna's personal items, orchestrated by her former assistant, including a breakup letter she wrote to American rapper Tupac Shakur (a/k/a 2Pac). Madonna filed an emergency court order, alleging that the items should not have been in the possession of her assistant and that she never agreed to the sale (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/auction-house-wins-battle-over-madonnas-tupac-letter-w519480?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The court ruled in favor of the auction house, saying that Madonna had not made any demand for the return of her possessions and that she forfeited her rights. The decision is available at https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=piETQikzGIl4R5YiIEyU6g==&mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8.

Neumann v. Sotheby's, Inc., No. 652170/2018 (Sup. Ct. NY, filed May 3, 2018) This dispute, now pending appeal, involves the 86 year-old paterfamilias of the Neumann family, who seeks injunction against Sotheby's from offering the painting "Flesh and Spirit" by Jean-Michel Basquiat for sale (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/arts/basquiat-auction-sothebys-neumann.html?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Neumann alleged that per a 2015 agreement, which was confirmed a year later, Sotheby's promised Neumann that they would seek his "approval on all matters relating to cataloging, placement, and exhibiting each and every work consigned". Although pieces in the collection are "owned by a variety of persons and entities", they are all considered part of the Neumann Family Collection, of which Hubert Neumann is the steward. However, in April 2018 Neumann learned that his daughter Belinda had consigned Basquiat's "Flesh and Spirit" - part of the collection - to Sotheby's for a sale in May, breaching the terms of his previous agreement with the auction house. The complaint is available at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4451958-Complaint.html?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8.

US v. Kyriacou, Canaye, et al., CR-18-0102 (E.D. N.Y., Filed Feb. 28, 2018; Superseding Indictment Submitted March 20, 2018) In March 2018, a press release by the Department of Justice revealed that six individuals and four corporate entities were indicted on charges of "conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy" (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/six-individuals-and-four-corporate-defendants-indicted-50-million-international?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). British art dealer Matthew Green is among the defendants. He is charged with conspiring to launder money using art. Green and others agreed to help an undercover agent clean "over $9 million dollars, which [he] represented to be the proceeds of securities fraud", by selling him the Picasso painting "Personnages" and thus providing him with paperwork for the purchase. The operation was halted before the painting's ownership was transferred. The original indictment is available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/press-release/file/1040471/download?mc_cid=97c8bdba58&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8.

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.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 17, 2018 5:08 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Week In Review.

The next post in this blog is Week in Review.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.