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

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, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Alexander Calder, Keith Haring Foundation, Agnes Martin, catalogue raisonné, connoisseurship, New York City Bar Association, Mayor Gallery Ltd, Peter Doig

Lauren Clay, the David Smith Estate, David Dodde, and Fair Use: Are We Learning Anything?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

A pair of recent disputes over sculpture, fair use and moral rights highlights the ongoing concern that Prince v. Cariou has made things worse, not better. The first concerns the estate of sculptor David Smith, and sculptor Lauren Clay. As Art in America put it, “Clay's works replicate the shapes of Smith's large metal ‘Cubi’ sculptures at tabletop scale in materials such as paper, and with faux wood grain or marble finishes.’ The Smith estate, through its reprsentatives at VAGA, took issue with this as a violation of Smith’s copyright. During the discussion, VAGA apparently proposed an agreement in which Clay would agree either not to sell the works, or only to display them with a disclaimer that the works were not authorized.

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Topics: VAGA, Donn Zaretsky, Yellow Submarine, Art in America, La Grande Vitesse, Prince v. Cariou, the Donald Smith Estate, Visual Artists Rights Act, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, VARA, Alexander Calder, Copyright, intellectual property, Fair Use, Lauren Clay, David Dodde

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The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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