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Center for Art Law Case Law Digest

Below is the Center for Art Law's monthly case law digest. Please note that in September, the Center for Art Law will make its Case Law digests a subscription-based feature of its otherwise free newsletter - Art Law Blast (https://itsartlaw.org/newsletter/).

If you would like to continue receiving the case updates, please subscribe: https://itsartlaw.org/account/subscribe/. You can also support the Center for Art Law's efforts by making contributions directly: https://itsartlaw.org/donate/.

The Mayor Gallery Ltd. v. The Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné LLC, No. 655489/2016, 2019 WL 2902163 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. July 5, 2019). For the second time, London-based James Mayor Gallery attempted to sue Arne and Marc Glimcher, of Pace Gallery, as well as Tiffany Bell, the editor of the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/agnes-martin-catalogue-raisonne-lawsuit-1599712?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The Gallery alleged that the defendants "unlawfully" declared 13 authentic Agnes Martin works inauthentic, costing the Gallery over $7 million. In July, a New York Supreme Court Judge dismissed the suit, stating the claims were "vague" and "speculative", and alleged no new facts since the 2016 suit, which was dismissed in 2018. Counsel for the James Mayor Gallery has indicated that it intends to appeal the decision.

Reif v. Nagy, No. 161799/15, 2019 WL 2931960 (N.Y. App. Div. July 9, 2019). The First Department of New York's Appellate Division unanimously ruled that two Egon Schiele paintings belonged to the claimants, heirs of Austrian-Jewish cabaret performer, Fritz Grünbaum.(https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/07/09/ny-appeals-court-explains-why-nazi-stolen-paintings-belong-with-jewish-collectors-heirs/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8&slreturn=20190631144930) The decision revoked possession from London-based art dealer Richard Nagy, who had owned the paintings since 2013. The court found for the claimants on the basis that they had established a prima facie case of superior title over the defendant; the court also determined that the doctrine of laches did not bar the claim.

People of New York v. Sanjeeve Asokan et al., 2019 NY 022431 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. filed July 10, 2019). Infamous Indian antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor was charged with 86 counts of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and conspiracy to defraud, alongside seven other defendants in a 185-page criminal complaint filed by prosecutors on July 10th. (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/us-authorities-file-criminal-charges-against-antiquities-dealer-subhash-kapoor-and-seven-others?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The charges stem from a smuggling ring Kapoor allegedly ran for 30 years starting in 1986, and cover 2,600 looted artifacts worth a total of more than $145 million. Kapoor has been extradited to and held in India since his 2011 arrest in Germany.

Stuart Pivar v. John Mcfadden, 2019 NY 156970 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed July 16, 2019). Collector Stuart Pivar filed a lawsuit against attorney John McFadden after McFadden allegedly deceived Pivar into selling him a Constantin Brancusi bronze for $100,000, a fraction of its worth.(https://news.artnet.com/art-world/brancusi-lawsuit-1604065?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) McFadden had agreed to establish a family foundation for Stuart Pivar and assist in organizing the Pivar art collection. Pivar claims that McFadden had agreed to assist in selling the bronze, "Mlle. Pogany II", to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Christie's, but that McFadden had no intention of doing so and aimed to obtain the Brancusi for himself. Pivar is demanding $200 million in damages for the fraud.

Goffman v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06733 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), Stein v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06669 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), and Kent v. Sotheby's, No. 12-CV-01374 (D. Del., filed July 23, 2019). After the June 2019 announcement that Sotheby's Auction House would be sold for $3.7 billion to BidFair USA, owned by French-Israeli Businessman Patrick Drahi, three shareholders sued the Auction House and its board of directors. (https://www.artforum.com/news/sotheby-s-shareholders-file-lawsuits-to-halt-sale-of-auction-house-80365?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The complaints cite "materially incomplete and misleading information" as the basis for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking undisclosed damages and a preliminary injunction against the sale pending further disclosures. Sotheby's released a statement saying the lawsuits were "expected and routine," and the company does not believe that the lawsuits will affect the closing of the sale later this year.

Portland Museum of Art v. Annemarie Germain, 2019 ME 80, 208 A.3d 772 (Me. Super. Ct. Cumberland County Ct., July 22, 2019). The Portland Museum of Art was awarded $4.6 million in its lawsuit against the late art collector Eleanor G. Potter's caregiver Annemarie Germaine. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/portland-museum-wins-elder-lawsuit-1607554?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) A longtime supporter and committee member to the museum, Potter named the museum as a benefactor to receive the entirety of her art collection and an estimated $3.3 million. Subsequently, her will was changed such that Potter's entire estate went to Germaine. The museum sued Germaine on the basis of elder abuse and coercion. On remand from the Supreme Court of Maine, the jury agreed and issued the award. Germaine intends to appeal the verdict.

Julian Rivera v. Walmart, Inc. et al, No. 2:19-cv-06550 (C.D. Cal. filed on July 29, 2019). Artist Julian Rivera, best known for his designs of a heart spelling the word "Love", has filed a copyright lawsuit against Walmart and Ellen DeGeneres, after the defendants collaborated on a clothing line with striking similarities to the plaintiff's work. (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/street-artist-sues-ellen-degeneres-and-walmart-for-copyright-infringement?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The complaint asserts that: "Defendants' exploitation [...] is particularly damaging because Rivera has carefully avoided any association with corporate culture or mass-market consumerism". He is seeking damages for copyright and trademark infringement, along with unfair business practices. The Complaint is available upon request.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 31, 2019 2:23 PM.

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