Art Law Report

Rich Man/Poor Man?  The Berkshire Museum and Why Deaccessioning is so Frustrating

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 23, 2017 at 6:11 PM

Two wonderful museums recently announced plans to sell major works of art.  In one case, some 40 paintings, American masterpieces among them, will be sold at auction.  In another, more than 400 photographs will also be sold.  The former case has prompted a nationwide outcry, the latter…effectively nothing.  The differences and similarities between the two underscore the aspirational rules that govern what is known as “deaccessioning,” but also remind us that principles and the goals they are meant to reach are not always the same thing. 

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Topics: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Delaware Museum of Art, American Alliance of Museums, Lee Rosenbaum, MoMA, Deaccessioning, AAM, Norman Rockwell, Association of Art Museum Directors, Alexander Calder, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, AAMD, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pittsfield, General Electric, Waconah Park, Berkshire Museum, Housatonic, Lake Onota, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, Zenas Crane, Williamstown, Lenox, North Adams, Mass MoCA, Felix Salmon

First Ripples in Greece from Parthenon Marble Loan to Russia

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 8, 2015 at 6:10 AM

Last month it was revealed that the British Museum had loaned a sculpture from the Parthenon, a/k/a Elgin, Marbles to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Reaction ranged from puzzlement to fury. Lee Rosenbaum pondered whether the loan was in fact a trial balloon to prepare for litigation, specifically, to rebut Greece’s claim that the sculptures are a single unified work that should be returned with an argument that the collection of individual objects is more complicated. My reaction really boiled down to the “law” of unintended consequences: once the UK put any of the objects outside its territorial control—let alone in Russia, which has shown little interest in the niceties of international loans and restitution—the British Museum may find itself in a Portrait of Wally situation. 

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Topics: cultural property, Defining Beauty: the Body in ancient Greek Art, Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, The Art Newspaper, Lee Rosenbaum, Elgin Marbles, Parthenon Marbles, Restitution, British Museum, Events, State Hermitage Museum, Portrait of Wally, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Litigation

Not so Fast—Intervention into Corcoran Cy Pres Case Allowed for Current Students and Employees, “Save the Corcoran” Turned Away

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 21, 2014 at 9:49 AM

The Washington Business Journal‘s Rebecca Cooper tweeted today from the courtroom today that District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Okun has allowed in part the motion to intervene in the Corcoran Gallery cy prés petition. Reports are that current students of the College of Art + Design, as well as current Corcoran employees were allowed to intervene, while intervention was denied to the organization “Save the Corcoran” and past employees and students.

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Deaccession, Washington Business Journal, National Gallery of Art, Save the Corcoran, George Washington University, Lee Rosenbaum, Rebecca Cooper, Cy Pres, Judge Robert Okun, District of Columbia Superior Court, Corcoran College of Art + Design, District Attorney General Irvin Nathan, Trusts, Corcoran Gallery, District of Columbia, Museums

A Trust For The Benefit of the Public is Not “the Public Trust”—The Deaccessioning Debate and the Detroit Institute of Arts

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Reflecting on the recent argument by the Detroit Institute of Arts that the city of Detroit cannot legally sell, let alone be forced to sell, the artwork in the museum to satisfy creditor, some overlapping terminology creates the possibility of an important confusion. Particularly in the realm of deaccessioning, this distinctions are quite important. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan today approved its part of the “Grand Bargain” to subsidize the bankruptcy to avoid sale or encumbrance of the artwork.

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Roberta Smith, Rose Art Museum, Lee Rosenbaum, Columbia University, Deaccessioning, Detroit Institute of Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Association of Art Museum Directors, Michigan, Albright-Knox Gallery, New York Times, Detroit Bankruptcy, AAMD, Edward Hopper, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, grand bargain, Brandeis University, Barnes Foundation

Blogs to Read and Support

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 22, 2013 at 5:11 AM

The ABA Journal is conducting its annual poll of the best 100 blogs. For arts and the law, the blogs I read the most are below. If you are a blog reader, consider casting a vote. We are all engaged in a great conversation, and your voice matters to what we write. If nothing else, read these blogs!

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Blogs, MItchell Stein, Kim Herman, Peter Bert, Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, Lee Rosenbaum, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Plundered Art, CultureGrrl, ARIS, Harry Ekblom, Holocaust Art Research Project, Dispute Resolution in Germany, Looted Art, Marc Masurovsky, The Art Law Blog, ARCA, Trending Trademarks, Business Aviation Law Blog, Center for Art Law

Barnes Foundation Relocation Under Attack Again but Unlikely to Come Out Differently

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 5, 2012 at 1:13 PM

The Barnes relocation, and challenges to it, are both in the news again. Apparently former Barnes CEO Kimberly Camp—who held that office when much of the push was made to justify the need to relocate to Center City in Philadelphia—posted a blog entry about the financial condition of the Foundation at the time. She writes:

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Lee Rosenbaum, Kimberly Camp, Cy Pres, Collections, Friends of the Barnes, Barnes Foundation

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