Art Law Report

New Authentication Lawsuit Filed Against Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 21, 2016 at 11:45 AM
For several years the topic of litigation against appraisers and authenticators has been a controversial issue, causing a number of artists’ foundations and independent professionals to refrain from giving opinions for fear of litigation, even in which they eventually prevail.  A new lawsuit against the Agnes Martin Authentication Committee underscores the importance of a pending bill in New York to shield such authenticators from liability, and the problems inherent in the status quo.  This lawsuit appears likely headed for failure just like every other similar authentication lawsuit, but that will come as cold comfort to the defendants years hence.
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Topics: authentication, catalogue raisonné, Alexander Calder, Keith Haring Foundation, New York City Bar Association, connoisseurship, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Mayor Gallery Ltd, Agnes Martin, Peter Doig

"Risks in the Attribution of Works of Art": November 8, 2016 in Geneva

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 20, 2016 at 11:14 AM

On November 8, 2016, a conference will take place organized jointly by the Art Law Foundation and the Art-Law Centre of the University of Geneva entitled Risks in the attribution of works of art: expert practices and legal considerations.  These organizations have steadly put forth multiple events per year that stand out for their breadth and substance.  Registration and further information are available here for this event, which promises to be another top-level presentation.  The general program (my translation) is below: 

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Topics: authentication, Events, Attribution

Making Sense of the Peter Doig Trial and the Authentication Fallout

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 25, 2016 at 11:36 AM

As was reported in detail by the New York Times and others earlier this week, artist Peter Doig prevailed in what most agree was the strangest art related trial in many years. In a nutshell, Doig was accused by a former corrections officer from Canada of falsely denying authorship of a painting in the plaintiff's possession, such that (according to the plaintiff), the painting lost all value.  The case was, and still is, a real problem for artists for many reasons.  Among them is that in a world of fakes and forgeries, a living artist could find him or herself the target of a shakedown.  It also spotlights yet another gap in the kind of rights that the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) was perhaps intended to protect.  Given the vehemence of the opinion finding in Doig's favor, do not be surprised to see a motion for attorney's fees by Doig arguing that the case was brought in bad faith.

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Topics: authentication, Peter Doig, peter Bartlow, Robert Fletcher

Events—Authentication in Art Congress May 11-13, 2016 in The Hague

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 19, 2016 at 3:50 PM

I have not been able to manage it in years prior, but a bi-annual event is coming up soon that is well worth the visit for anyone in the vicinity. The Authentication in Art (AiA) foundation is an independent non-profit that facilitates and controls the AiA Congress. This year’s Congress, the first since 2014, will take place next month in The Hague.  Registration is available on the group’s site here.

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Topics: authentication, Events

Buyer Beware (Again)—Art Dealer Charged with Selling Forged Paintings

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 8, 2016 at 9:25 AM

As Super Bowl Sunday revealed that Ann Freedman has apparently settled claims against her in the first Knoedler trial over the creation of forged Abstract Expressionist paintings to whose orchestration Glafiria Rosales pleaded guilty, news broke of federal charges against Michigan art dealer Eric Spoutz whom the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has accused of selling dozens of fake paintings. Most distressing is that Spoutz’s website touts a long list of museums to which he claims that he sold paintings as works by Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and others. Those institutions in particular, and any other affected buyer or affected party, should be proactive about their legal rights and options. The government’s complaint does not specify the purchasers or recipients of any work alleged to be fake, making it all the more important for anyone who might be affected to seize the intiative.

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Topics: provenance, Forgery, authentication

Recap of “Rethinking Art Authentication” at the New York City Bar

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 10, 2015 at 6:34 AM

Last week the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association hosted a terrific two-hour event. Entitled “Rethinking Art Authentication,” the discussion aimed to address a way forward from the problems of fakes, forgeries, and authentication lawsuits that have plagued the art market in recent years. It was a lively and fascinating evening.

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Topics: Karl Waldmann, Ceroni, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Leonardo da Vinci, Cady Noland, Knoedler, New York Assembly, Catalogue raisonée, authentication, Dean R. Nicyper, New York University, Colette Loll, Blue Room, Dan Flavin, Dada, Visual Artists Rights Act, Rick Johnson, Rethinking Art Authentication, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduct, Jennifer L. Mass, Art Law Committee, Trial Lawyers Association, Beltracchi, Events, La Bella Principessa, Hyperspectral imaging, Gerhard Richter, New York City Bar Association, Cornell Tech, Rijksmuseum, Cowboys Milking, Andy Warhol, Picasso, New York Senate, Walter Benjamin, Elmyr de Hory, Withers Bergman LLP, Amadeo Modigliani, Amy M. Adler

Rethinking Art Authentication—December 2, 2015 at the New York City Bar Association

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 18, 2015 at 10:34 AM

The Art Law Committee (of which I am a member) of the New York City Bar Association is holding a fascinating evening event on December 2, 2015 at the City Bar's headquarters at 42 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues). Entitled “Rethinking Art Authentication,” the program will address issues that readers here will find familiar and yet challenging: the ongoing struggle against fakes and forgeries in the art market. From the flyer:

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Topics: Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, authentication, Dean R. Nicyper, New York University, Colette Loll, Rick Johnson, Jennifer L. Mass, Art Law Committee, Events, New York City Bar Association, Cornell Tech, Rijksmuseum, Withers Bergman LLP, Amy M. Adler

In Vino Veritas—Second Circuit Upholds Damages in Counterfeit Wine Koch Brother Case With Implications for Art Sales

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 1, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Koch brothers David and William are as well known for their art patronage as certain parts of the family are for political activity, and a decision yesterday by the Second Circuit involving William Koch could extend that influence. While the case concerned two dozen bottles of allegedly counterfeit wine, the implications on terms of sale and disclaimers will be felt in sales of fine art in New York as well.

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Topics: David Koch, Château Lafite Rothschild, Auctions, Eric Greenberg, Second Circuit, authentication, Zachys Wine & Liquor Auctions, wine, Pétrus, In Vino Veritas, Koch brothers, Zachys Wine & Liquor Stores, Bordeaux, New York General Business Law § 349, Chateau Latour, punitive damages, fraud, New York General Business Law § 350, William Koch, Uniform Commercial Code, U.C.C.

Disputed Baushaus Artist Kurt Waldmann and Concerns of Another Forgery Enterprise in Germany

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 9, 2015 at 12:07 PM

A few weeks ago some interesting speculation started circulating about the possibility of a new forgery operation in Germany, which was home to the now-infamous Wolfgang Beltracchi. Beltracchi successfully fooled buyers for years with forged Expressionist and Modernist paintings, going so far as to invent a fictional “Jäger Collection” (including a staged photograph of Beltracchi’s wife purporting to show a painting on the wall of an ancestors home). The most interesting thing about the current story is that it is impossible to tell yet whether there is really a problem; the most detailed efforts to date have been unable to confirm whether Kurt Waldmann, the artist in question, even existed. Many of the indicia of concern are there, but they are hardly conclusive.

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Topics: Jäger Collection, Kurt Waldmann, Brussels, Forgery, “Künstliche Tatsachen / Boundary Objects", authentication, authenticity, Pascal Polar, Strasbourg, Bauhaus, Dada, Berlin Wall, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Jean Milossis, Wolfgang Beltracchi, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Kunsthaus Dresden, Museums, Berliner Kurier

Always Read Closely: New York Senate Passes Authentication Bill, But Enhanced Burden of Proof Stripped from Earlier Proposal and Fee-Shifting Is Diluted

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 22, 2015 at 7:49 AM

The New York State Senate has passed a bill relating to the liability of authenticators and appraisers. When I first saw the news it seemed like a minor development, but then I went and read the bill. It stripped out a material aspect of the bill first proposed last year that would have required plaintiffs seeking damages against authenticators to prove their case by clear and convincing evidence, a daunting standard. Heightened pleading requirements are still contained within the bill, but the attorneys’ fees provision has also been watered down, with such an award now discretionary rather than mandatory.

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Topics: Legislation, Section 13.04, Section 15.12, Hyperallergic, authentication, clear and convincing, fee-shifting, Senate Bill S6794, Warhol Foundation, attorneys' fees, preponderance of the evidence, appraiser, New York Arts & Cultural Affairs Law, authenticator, New York Senate, S1229-A

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