Art Law Perspectives

Insights and commentary on art law

Latest from Art Law Perspectives

UNITED STATES U.S. Supreme Courts Declines Certiorari in the 5Pointz CaseTwo years ago, in one of the most important decisions applying the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) since its adoption, New York’s Eastern District awarded $6.75 million in statutory damages to 21 street artists whose aerosol works were intentionally destroyed by the owner of the buildings on which they were painted. VARA gives artists the right to sue to prevent the destruction of…
UNITED STATES Two New York Antiquities Dealers Arrested for Allegedly Fabricating Provenance Documents Two owners of a Manhattan-based antiquities gallery were arrested in connection with their suspected complicity in an alleged fraud scheme to swindle buyers with the use of fake provenance documents. Specifically, according to the indictment documents unsealed in a New York court, the dealers are accused of fabricating false provenance documents by listing deceased collectors as long-time owners of objects they…
UNITED STATES U.S. Senate Subcommittee’s Report Recommends Art Market Regulations As part of its investigation into the effectiveness of sanctions against foreign persons and entities, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate issued a report focused on lack of regulation and pervasive secrecy in the art market. Specifically, the report notes that the art industry is considered the largest legal industry in the United States that is not subject to the requirements…
NORTH AMERICA Disgraced Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges A New York grand jury has indicted art dealer Inigo Philbrick on federal charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft; Philbrick has entered a plea of not guilty. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District claims that Philbrick defrauded multiple people and businesses in New York between 2016 and 2019 to finance his art business, access valuable art, and obtain sales proceeds,…
Paris Dealer Charged with Fraud and Money Laundering in Sale of Golden Sarcophagus to the Met French art dealer and Mediterranean archeology expert Christophe Kunicki was charged with fraud and money laundering in Paris following an investigation that began after the sale of a golden sarcophagus to New York’s Metropolitan Museum for €3.5 million in 2017. The Met subsequently returned the sarcophagus to Egypt, after learning that its provenance was forged. The investigation revealed that…
UNITED STATES SCOTUS Will Hear Appeal by German Museums over Jewish Heirs’ Claims that the Sale of the Guelph Treasure Was a Genocidal Taking In a lawsuit filed in 2015, Jewish heirs of German art owners who sold the Guelph Treasure (gilded German reliquaries dating back to the 11th to 15th centuries) to the Nazi-controlled Prussian government in 1935, claim that the sale was a “genocidal taking.” The heirs seek restitution of the reliquaries from…
UNITED STATES Street Artist’s Work Sent to Space On May 30, 2020, SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company founded by Elon Musk, made history by sending its first manned flight into outer space. Yet, its spacecraft, the Crew Dragon capsule, was carrying more than the two NASA astronauts. On board was the work of Tristan Eaton, a Los Angeles–based street artist, who designed five small metal plates, one for each of the astronauts…
UNITED STATES Still No LOVE in Robert Indiana’s Estate Battle In the ongoing suit over the rights to Robert Indiana’s artworks, defendant Michael McKenzie, the founder of American Image Art, filed new counterclaims against the Morgan Art Foundation alleging that Morgan orchestrated “one of the most massive art frauds in history.” McKenzie argues that intellectual property rights were abandoned by Indiana decades ago and that the artist’s famous LOVE artwork is in the public domain.…
UNITED STATES Police Arrest Oxford Professor for Allegedly Selling Stolen Goods to the Museum of the Bible Dirk Obbink, Ph.D., an associate professor in papyrology and Greek literature at Oxford, England, has been accused of stealing ancient papyrus fragments from Oxford University’s Sackler Library and selling 13 of the texts to the owners of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. The items in question are papyrus fragments that belong to the Egypt Exploration…
UNITED STATES Proposed Copyright Legislation Meant to Streamline Dispute Resolution Faces Criticism While several pieces of copyright legislation are expected to come before the U.S. Congress this year, arguably the most significant is the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act. The Act is intended to benefit artists, for whom copyright enforcement litigation is often cost-prohibitive. CASE would establish a small-claims court system made up of a three-judge board to adjudicate claims up to $15,000…