Art Law Report

Corcoran Merger Approved, Cy Prés Ruling Treats Deaccession as Non-Starter in Concluding that Status Quo is Untenable

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 19, 2014 at 8:05 AM

As reported initially, Judge Robert Okun of the District of Columbia Superior Court allowed yesterday the cy prés petition by the trustees of the Corcoran Gallery and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. The full opinion can be read here. The petition asked to reform the trust of William Corcoran to permit a merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University, a merger that will now proceed. The ruling addresses the financial condition of the Corcoran at length, but what is perhaps most interesting is the court’s acceptance of a central argument made by the Corcoran that selling its artwork to shore up its finances was an unacceptable way to proceed. This adopts the view, espoused most prominently by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), that deaccessioning for anything other than the purchase or care of art is anathema. Right or wrong, that acceptance in this opinion should have long lasting effects. Framing the question in this way was a work of skilled lawyering by the Corcoran’s attorneys, and kudos must go as well to the interveners and their counsel, without whom the other side of the story would have had no advocates at the trial. Those interveners have stated that they do not intend to appeal, meaning the case is over. Jayme McLellan, founder of Save the Corcoran, issued a statement after the ruling that “The Corcoran as we know it is gone. We fought the good fight." Incidentally, in response to our earlier reporting of McLellan’s role, I received an e-mail yesterday from Mimi Carter, the Corcoran’s Vice President, Marketing & Communication. Ms. Carter stated “Jayme McLellan was not fired from the Corcoran. She resigned in 2012, as mentioned on the first day of court hearings, citing differences with leadership. While there was a miscommunication with Ms. McLellan because of a lack of internal systems, due to a diminished staff and finances, she was not offered a contract to teach this coming Fall. Statements of retaliation are simply false.”

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Middles States Commission on Higher Education, Harry Hopper III, Anne Smith, Deaccession, Kathy Raffa, National Gallery of Art, Chiara Trabucchi, Industrial Economics, Jayme McLellan, William Corcoran, Save the Corcoran, George Washington University, sanctions, Corcoran Merger, University of Maryland, Deaccessioning, Cy Pres, Judge Robert Okun, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, District of Columbia Superior Court, AAM Code of Ethics, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Lauren Stack, Alexander Haas, Paul Johnson, Trusts, Art Institute of Chicago, Dr. Steven Knapp, Corcoran Gallery, Museums, New York Times, Sean O’Connor, Caroline Lacey, MSCHE, Dr. Wallach Loh, Deaccessioning Blog, Art Law Report, Mimi Carter, National Public Radio

Russia Threatens Lawsuit Against U.S. Library of Congress in Further Retaliation for Chabad Sanctions Order

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 12, 2013 at 8:44 AM

In a story that gets more unusual with every new development, the Russian Foreign Ministry has reportedly recommended filing a lawsuit, in Russia, against the United States Library of Congress in response to last month’s contempt sanctions order by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia arising out of Russia’s refusal to obey a judgment to return the Chabad Lubavitch library of Menachem Schneerson.

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Topics: Russian Times, Russian Foreign Ministry, sanctions, The Art Newspaper, Library of Congress, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Litigation, Immunity from Seizure Act, Chabad, Sergey Lavrov

Russia Swiftly Lashes Out At Sanctions Concerning Schneerson/Chabad Library, U.S. Government Still Silent

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 17, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Despite refusing to participate in a lawsuit for nearly three years since a judgment that ordered the return to the Chabad Lubavitch movement in Brooklyn of the late Rebbe Menachem Schneerson’s library, the Russian Federation swiftly spoke up when news came of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s order yesterday sanctioning and fining the defendants $50,000 per day until they comply with the 2010 judgment. The Washington Post reports today that the U.S. government has declined to comment.

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Topics: cultural property, Menachem Schneerson, Russian Foreign Ministry, sanctions, Restitution, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Chabad

Russian Art Embargo News: Chabad Negotiations Over Russian Library Fail, Renewed Request for Contempt Sought

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 7, 2012 at 4:38 AM

After months of inactivity and intimations of a possible settlement, the Chabad plaintiffs seeking the return of the Schneerson library have had enough, and have renewed their request to the District Court to sanction the defendants who have not complied with prior orders to return the library.

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Topics: Alexander Avdeyev, Russian art embargo, sanctions, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Acts, Menachem Scnheerson, Collections, FSIA, Restitution, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, contempt, Chabad

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