Art Law Report

Did Philadelphia Inadvertently Step on First Amendment and VARA in Painting Over Cosby Mural?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 28, 2015 at 12:46 PM

Few things have brought consensus recently more than the revulsion over the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, a Philadelphia native. Yet in a desire to distance itself from Cosby, the city may have crossed a First Amendment line when a well-known mural entitled “Father’s Day” that depicts Cosby was painted over. And even if the city did not run afoul of that constitutional protection, the artist of the mural may have had under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, 17 U.S.C. § 106A (VARA) rights too. Ultimately it will come down to whether the artist or artists object to the fact or the timing of the removal—an objection that would not necessarily be any endorsement or support of Cosby (or have anything at all to do with Cosby), but which might relate more to the right of expression.

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Topics: Philadelphia Inquirer, King Jr., Philadelphia, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Martin Luther, VARA, Philadelphia City Mural Arts Program, Temple University, University of Massachusetts, 17 U.S.C. § 106A, Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby, The Washington Post, First Amendment

Corcoran Cy Pres Petition Challenged by Students, Staff and Community Group. Will “Save the Corcoran” Be Another “Friends of the Barnes” Case?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 8, 2014 at 10:52 AM

After months of uncertainty about the future of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Corcoran’s Trustee’s filed a petition on June 17, 2014 for cy pres—to revise the terms of the trust that administers the museum and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. The Corcoran’s financial condition, they argue, make the current situation untenable and in the long run impossible, to sustain. The petition proposes an arrangement with the National Gallery of Art (NGA) for the bulk of the artwork, and with George Washington University (GW) for the college functions, all to sustain the mission of the trust “as nearly as possible.”

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Topics: Frank Gehry, Deaccession, National Gallery of Art, William Corcoran, George Washington University, Philadelphia, Rule 24, Renwick Building, Cy Pres, Washington DC, Flagg Building, Corcoran College of Art + Design, William Flagg, Trusts, Museums, Friends of the Barnes, Corcoran Gallery of Art, intervention, Senator William Clark, Barnes Foundation

FBI Claims to Have "Confirmed Sightings" of Stolen Gardner Artwork, But Offers Only Stale Information and Conjecture

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 22, 2014 at 6:23 AM

The FBI said today that the bureau has received “confirmed” sightings of the works of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Thieves dressed as police robbed the museum of thirteen major works of art on March 18, 1990, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet. Read carefully, however, the story is nothing new at all, just a retelling of last year’s “news” released around the anniversary of the theft and a raft of conjecture.

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Topics: Gardner Heist, Philadelphia, Robert Guarente, Degas, and Robert Gentile, Carmello Merlino, The Storm on the Sea of Gallilee, Manet Richard DesLauriers, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston Globe, FBI, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Museums, Special Agent Geoff Kelly, La Cosa Nostra

Barnes Relocation Case Sanctions Award Upheld, But Also Reduced

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 13, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Judge Stanley R. Ott, the presiding judge in the unsuccessful challenge to the Barnes Foundation’s move to Center City in Philadelphia has upheld his award of sanctions against the plaintiffs challenging the move. After a recent hearing, the judge awarded the Barnes $25,000 in attorneys' fees from the Friends of the Barnes, and a separate $15,000 form a lawyer who had filed a challenge in his own right.

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Topics: Montgomery County Orphan's Court, Charitable Foundations, The Art of the Steal, Philadelphia, Stanley Ott, attorneys' fees, Center City, Estate Planning, Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation Case Dismissed, Relocation to Philadelphia Will Proceed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 7, 2011 at 5:50 AM

To paraphrase the famous Saturday Night Live skit about General Francisco Franco: this just in: Museum members and supporters still cannot go to court to challenge the administration of the institution. The Barnes Foundation has defeated the latest challenge to its right to move from its original home in Lower Merion outside of Philadelphia to its new home in the center of the city. The relocation will go forward.

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Topics: Albert Barnes, Art of the Steal, Rose Art Museum, Philadelphia, Saturday Night Live, Cy Pres, Collections, General Francisco Franco, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Trust reformation, Lincoln University, Lower Merion, Trusts, Standing, Barnes Foundation

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