Art Law Report

McDonald's Beats Graffiti Copyright Claims in California, But Faces New Threat over New York Street Art

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 26, 2017 at 11:50 AM

McDonald’s recently prevailed on personal jurisdiction grounds in a closely-watched case in California about the use of street art as décor for restaurants in the United Kingdom, but the issue has quickly arisen again.  As part of what the fast-food giant has clearly decided is a winning branding strategy, the chain’s use of graffiti from New York has now brought the threat of litigation from the so-called Bushwick Collective.  Where any such lawsuit gets filed will have a great deal to do with what happens next.

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Topics: Joseph Tierney, Netherlands, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Rime, California, specific jurisdiction, 17 U.S.C. § 1202, general jurisdiction, Moschino, personal jurisdiction, Graffiti, New York, Dashiell Snow, McDonald's, Street Art, Daimler AG v. Bauman, Virus, NDA, Don Rimx, Beau Stanton, Himbad, United Kingdom, Atomik, Bushwick Collective

Restitution Claims Resolved in New York and Cologne, New Case Filed Against Germany

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 29, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Word came this week of two resolutions of claims to Nazi-looted art in museums in New York and Cologne, and a new Nazi-looted claim against Germany filed in Washington.  Barely a month after the Neue Galerie (of Austrian and German art) in New York announced that it had discovered a “major work” in its collection had a clouded history, the museum announced an agreement concerning the Karl Schmitt-Rotloff painting Nude (1914).  It is not known if the Schmitt-Rotloff is the same work to which the museum referred last month.  Around the same time, the Wallraff-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, Germany, announced that it had agreed to return a drawing by Adolf Menzel that had been sold to Hildebrand Gurlitt as its owners fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  Blick über die Dächer von Schandau (View over the rooves of Schandau) (1886) will be retuned to the heirs of Hamburg attorney Albert Martin Wolffson and his daughter Elsa Helene Cohen.  These settlements are examples of constructive dialogue and enlightened treatment of the historical fact.  The new litigation likely means the opposite approach from the German defendants.

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Topics: Cologne, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Breslau, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Nazi-looted art, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), Gurlitt, David Toren, Neue Galerie, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, New York, Karl Schmitt-Rotloff, Alfred and Tekla Hess, Streen Scene in Berlin, Adolf Menzel, Strassenzene

Development May be Coming Soon In Klimt Beethoven Frieze Case

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 4, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Der Standard in Austria reported this week that a recommendation is expected on Friday in the claim by the heirs of Erich Lederer to the famous Klimt Beethoven Frieze in the Secession Museum in Vienna. The issue in this case is not a Nazi-era theft per se, but the effect of Austria’s post-war restitution law, which returned ownership to the Lederer family (it was looted from Erich Lederer under the Nazi) but forbade export, leading to a sale. The Lederer family has argued that that amounts to a second taking. As I made no secret last week with regard to Germany’s intended National Cultural Property Designation for the Welfenschatz that my clients have sued to recover, this kind of export prohibition is now recognized for what it is: an effort to hinder restitution. The same kind of claim was made against the Leopold Museum in Vienna for Portrait of Wally, namely, the allegation that the post-war sale was not valid under the circumstances because of the export prohibition. That case settled in 2010, the painting remains in Vienna.

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Topics: BGBl. I Nr. 181/1998 i.d.F. BGBl. I Nr. 117/2009, Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Leopold Museum, Limbach Commission, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Pure Love of Art versus Mere Investment in London March 26-27, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 23, 2015 at 5:07 AM

The Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Committee of the International Bar Association (of which I am a member) will be sponsoring an event March 26-27, 2015 at Sotheby’s in London. The IBA Individual Tax and Private Client Committee is also a co-sponsor, in connection with the IBA European Regional Forum. Sotheby’s is located at 34-35 New Bond Street in London.

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Topics: Raul-Angelo Papotti, Farrer & Co, Karen Sanig, Daniel Simon Collyer Bristow, Helly Nahmed Gallery, The Princely Collections, Lucian Simmons Steven Thomas, Art Finance, Mary Romano, Rina Pantalony, Philip Hoffman, International Julius Baer, Luke Dugdale, Helly Nahmad, UGGC Avocats, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati, Mark Cornell, UK Government Art Collection, ICOM, Daniel Tunkel Howard Kennedy, Peter Polak, David Arendt, Adrian Parkhouse, Diana Wierbicki, Paris, Guy Simonius, Bloomberg, Johann Kräftner, Art Cultural Institutions and Heritage Committee o, Columbia University, Geneva; Wendy Philips, Herrick, ARIS Title, Melanie Gerlis The Art Newspaper, Jasper Sharp, Sandrine Giroud, Cadell & Co, Scotland Yard, Lalive, Jean-Francois Canat, Houston Francesca von Habsburg, 1858 Ltd Art Advisory, Viola Reikhel-Bolot, UCLA School of Law, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Stephen D Brodie, Fine Art Wealth Management, The Fine Art Fund Group, Marlborough Contemporary, Los Angeles, Randall Willette, Events, Massimo Sterpi, Luxembourg, Sherri North Cohen, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, Le Freeport, Kunsthistorisches Museum, LIECHTENSTEIN, Adrian George, Fabrizio Moretti, Alfredo Perez, Mishcon de Reya¸ George Bailey, TEFAF Maastricht, Mark Stephens, Dick Ellis, IBA Individual Tax and Private Client Committee, Goldsmiths London University, Andrew Renton, Withers, Sotheby's, Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Vaduz, Zürich, IBA, Vienna, Pure Love of Art versus Mere Investment, New York

Parthenon Sculpture Loan to Russia: Legal and Diplomatic Fallout Could be Far-Reaching

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 9, 2014 at 6:55 AM

The British Museum has announced that it has loaned to Russia one of the sculptures from the Parthenon that widely known as the “Elgin Marbles” after Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin who oversaw their removal from then-Ottoman occupied Greece in 1811-12. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is the recipient of the loan, specifically, the sculpture of the river god Ilissos from the west pediment of the Parthenon.

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Topics: cultural property, Pandora’s box, the 7th Earl of Elgin, Temple of Zeus at Olympia, George Clooney, Russia, Thomas Bruce, Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, Elgin Marbles, river god Ilissos, Museum of Modern Art, Greece, The British Museum, Restitution, Pausanias, Parthenon Sculpture, Portrait of Wally, Austria, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Ottoman Empire, Museums, Attica, New York

Austria Restitution Advisory Commission Defers Klimt Beethoven Frieze Decision, No Reasons Given

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 4, 2014 at 10:40 AM

There was a curious non-development today in Austria concerning the dispute over Gustav Klimt’s famed “Beethoven Frieze” located in the Secession Building in Vienna. At issue is whether a post-war sale by Jewish survivors to Austria of a famous painting that the law of the time did not allow to be exported can be considered a sale under duress and justify restitution.

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Topics: Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Germany’s Limbach Commission, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Gesamtkunstwerk, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Museums, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

"Saving Africa’s Elephants Changing the Art Scene" last Tuesday with VLA New York

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

I enjoyed a terrific panel discussion organized by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York Tuesday evening at Herrick, Feinstein LLP. Entitled "Saving Africa’s Elephants Changing the Art Scene," the panel addressed the ramifications of this year’s Director’s Order that banned the import of African Elephant ivory for any commercial use, and restricted even further non-commercial use.

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Topics: David Freudenthal, Pearlstein and McCullough, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, iGavel, Michael McCullough, Saving Africa’s Elephants Changing the Art Scene, Frank Lord, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Christie's, Hartley Waltman, Carnegie Hall, Events, ivory ban, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Craig Hoover, Lark Mason, Customs, New York

Graffiti, Vandalism, and Public Expression: Public Art and its Uneasy Relationship with the Law

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 2, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Recurring events involving public art have underscored the tension between that expression and the law. Banksy’s “residence” in New York last fall broached this subject, but this summer’s Brooklyn Bridge flag incident, and several new lawsuits asserting copyright in graffiti will test the bounds of what the law protects and what it permits. As Banksy says in one of his murals, "graffiti is a crime."

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Topics: Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, Ahol Sniffs Glue, David Anasagasti, Steel, City as Canvas, Moral Rights, Argentina, Public Art, Graffiti Art, Philippa Loengard, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Leonardo’s Last Supper, Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center for Law Med, Chicago, Museum of the City of New York, VARA, Public Expression, Michael Bloomberg, American Eagle, Terry Gilliam, Banksy, 17 U.S.C. § 106A, Copyright, Buenos Aires, 5Pointz, Revok, Roberto Cavalli, vandalism, Reyes, Graffiti, The Atlantic, New York

Books of Note: "The Art Collecting Legal Handbook" Reviewed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 18, 2014 at 12:14 PM

In the course of our work here, I like to call out books and articles that I feel are worthy of praise, usually the in the course of a particular post or issue. After a too-long stay on the corner of my desk awaiting time to read it, I finally finished a book published last year that should be an essential for any collector, or lawyer dealing with clients across borders. Entitled The Art Collecting Legal Handbook (Thomson Reuters), the book is edited by Bruno Boesch and Massimo Sterpi, both notable European practitioners in art and cultural affairs law, at Froriep in London and Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati in Rome, respectively.

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Topics: Legislation, The Art Collecting Legal Handbook, the Middle East, looted property, Forgery, Auctions, VAT, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati, authenticity, London, Sam Keller, Julien Anfruns, droite de suite, Froriep, Moral Rights, Europe, North America, Holocaust claims, California, Fondation Beyeler, Howard Kennedy FSI, Thomson Reuters, Asia, Rome, Restitution, International Council of Museums, Massimo Sterpi, United States, World War II, Sabina von Arx, 1970 UNESCO Convention, Morgan Stanley, Art Fairs, Publications, Litigation, due diligence, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Bruno Boesch, 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Ex, Daniel McClean, New York

“Saving Africa’s Elephants, Changing the Art Scene” on October 14, 2014

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 17, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has organized an interesting panel presentation and discussion on October 14, 2014 that will be held at Herrick, Feinstein LLP in New York. From the event description (online registration available):

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Topics: David Freudenthal, Pearlstein and McCullough, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, iGavel, Michael McCullough, Saving Africa’s Elephants Changing the Art Scene, Frank Lord, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Christie's, Hartley Waltman, Carnegie Hall, Events, ivory ban, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Craig Hoover, Lark Mason, Customs, New York

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