Art Law Report

Event—Global Auction House Summit in London, February 4-6, 2019

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 13, 2018 at 12:16 PM

I am pleased to be speaking on a panel at the upcoming Global Auction House Summit presented by Invaluable, the leading technology partner for online auction services.  I will be presenting on the issues of Managing Reputation & Risk, and look forward to a lively discussion.  The conference schedule is reprinted below, and registration is available here

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Topics: Global Auction House Summit, John Albrecht, Leonard Joel, Martina Batovic, Dorotheum, Evan Beard, US Trust, Anna Brady, The Art Newspaper, Anthony Calnek, Sotheby's, ARTMYN, Brendan Ciecko, Cuseum, Andrea Danese, Athena Art Finance, Jakob Dupont, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of Fine Art, Pierre Fautrel, Obvious, Andy Foster, Phillips, Melanie Gerlis, Financial Times, Dr. Anna-Sophie Hollenders, Raue LLP, Lori Hotz, Lobus, Bas Kuiper, AMFAD, Sophie MacPherson, Christopher McKeogh, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Julian Radcliffe, Art Loss Register, Gene Shapiro, Shapiro Auctions, Sarah Wendell Sherrill, Mary-Alice Stack, Creative United, Rob Weisberg, Invaluable, Georgina C. Winthrop, Grogan & Company, London, Proxy Voting Policies, Institutional Shareholder Services, Affordable Housing, Real Estate Development, Events, Auctions

Event—The Future of Nazi-Looted Art Recovery in the US and Abroad

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 25, 2018 at 1:20 PM

I am pleased to be taking part in a symposium at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles on September 26, 2018, “The Future of Nazi Looted Art Recovery in the US and Abroad.”  Presented by Cypress LLP and the Sotheby’s Institute of Art/Claremont Graduate University, the program assembles an impressive group of presenters in whose company I’m grateful to be included.  Registration is available here, and the schedule is below:

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Topics: Nazi-looted art, Daniel McClean, Cypress LLP, Jonathan Neil, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Skirball Center, Eyal Dolev, Simon Goodman, The Orpheus Clock, Jonathan Petropolous, Claremont McKenna College, The Faustian Bargain, The Art World in Nazi Germany, Dr. Lynn Rother, Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, HEAR Act, Laurence Eisenstein, Eisenstein Malanchuk LLP, Lothar Fremy, Rosbach & Fremy, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Thaddeus Stauber, Nixon Peabody LLP, Mark Labaton, Stephen Clark, Getty Institute, Simon Frankel, Covington & Burling LLP, Anne Webber, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Bob Muller, René Gimpel, Lucian Simmons, Sotheby's, Isabel von Klitzing

Court of Appeals Upholds Claims to Renowned Guelph Treasure Sold Under Duress to Nazi Agents

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 10, 2018 at 12:33 PM

(WASHINGTON-July 10, 2018) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the right of the heirs to the so-called Guelph Treasure (known in German as the Welfenschatz) to seek restitution in U.S. courts for the value of the treasured art collection. The appellate court rejected Defendants’ arguments that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction, or that Germany’s treatment of its Jews in the 1930s should be immune from judicial scrutiny.  While the Federal Republic of Germany itself was dismissed as a defendant, the actual possessor and key party in interest (the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, or SPK) must now prove that a 1935 transfer of the collection by a consortium of Jewish art dealers to Hermann Goering’s minions was a legitimate transaction if they are to retain the collection. 

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Topics: Guelph Treasure, Welfenschatz, Germany, SPK, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, FSIA, D.C. Circuit, Consortium, Genocide Convention, J.S. Goldschmidt, I. Rosenbaum, Z.M. Hackenbroch, Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Prussia, Luftwaffe, Reichstag, Gestapo, flight taxes, Baltimore Sun, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, NS Raubkunst, Nazi-looted art

Alexander Khochinsky Files Suit Against Poland for Retaliation Related to WW II Property Claims

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 27, 2018 at 1:26 PM

(WASHINGTON, D.C.-June 27, 2018) Alexander Khochinsky, the son of a Polish Jew who fled her home just steps ahead of the German invasion in 1941, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Poland for that country’s efforts to extradite him after he sought restitution of his mother’s property.  Khochinsky, an art dealer, reached out to Poland about a painting, Girl with Dove by Antoine Pesne, that he had inherited from his parents and that looked similar to one that Poland was seeking, and asked to open a dialogue about what had happened to his mother’s home.  In retaliation, Poland charged him with a crime and asked the United States to extradite him for prosecution.  The U.S. District Court in Manhattan dismissed the request for extradition in 2015, but by then Khochinsky had suffered months of detention and the destruction of his business.

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Topics: Alexander Khochinsky, Poland, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nazi-looted art, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Przemysl, Holocaust, Red Army, Leningrad, extradition, "Girl with Dove", Antoine Pesne

Sullivan & Worcester LLP Assists in Relocation of "Digital DNA" from Palo Alto to Harvard

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 26, 2018 at 10:47 AM

I am pleased to report on the outcome of a matter we announced in February.  After a disagreement with the City of Palo Alto (California) about her sculpture Digital DNA, Sullivan & Worcester LLP client Adriana Varella has agreed to relocate the sculpture to the campus of Harvard Business School.  The agreement is a positive outcome that ultimately did not require litigation, and a reminder of the importance of artists’ rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”).  I was honored to be able to work with this incredible artist to preserve her importance sculpture and begin an exciting new chapter for her art.

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Topics: Adriana Varella, VARA, Digital DNA, City of Palo Alto, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Right of attribution, Right of integrity, 5Pointz, Boston Globe, Harvard Business School, Harvard

Members of the Berkshire Museum Ask Supreme Judicial Court to Stop Berkshire Museum’s Deaccession Plan

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 26, 2018 at 5:36 PM

(Boston, MA, February 26, 2018) Sullivan & Worcester LLP clients and Berkshire Museum members James Hatt, Kristin Hatt, and Elizabeth Weinberg filed today a brief with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts asking the state’s highest court not to permit the sale of 40 works of art by the Berkshire Museum. The Berkshire Museum filed a petition on February 9, 2018 asking the SJC to permit deviation from the historical restrictions that would prevent such sale. Today the museum member filed a brief as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.”

Partner Nicholas M. O’Donnell, attorney for the members, said, “My clients are optimistic that the SJC will see through the Berkshire Museum’s petition to deviate from its historical restrictions as unnecessary, and harmful. Such a petition must show that the current state of affairs is impossible or impracticable, and that the requested change is ‘as near as possible’ to the original purpose of the institution. This petition fails to meet either criterion.”

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Topics: Berkshire Museum, Deaccessioning, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Pittsfield, Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Nicholas M. O'Donnell

Members of the Berkshire Museum Pledge to Continue Fight Against Liquidation of the Museum’s Art Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 13, 2018 at 2:45 PM

(Boston, MA, February 13, 2018) Sullivan & Worcester LLP clients and Berkshire Museum members James Hatt, Kristin Hatt, and Elizabeth Weinberg sharply denounced today the agreement that was announced Friday evening between the Berkshire Museum and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office to permit the sale of every one of 40 works of art that the members—and AG Healey—sued last year to prevent.  Only two weeks after filing a 50-page brief in the Massachusetts Appeals Court that detailed numerous violations of the Trustees’ fiduciary duties and specific restrictions on the 40 works of art, the Attorney General’s office has filed its assent to the Museum’s request to modify its governing charter to permit the immediate sale of Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop to an unnamed buyer, and to allow the sale of the 39 remaining works thereafter without any further oversight of the governance of the Museum.

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Topics: Berkshire Museum, Deaccessioning, Maura Healey, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP

Members of the Berkshire Museum File Appeal Papers to Stop Museum's Planned Sale of 40 Works from its Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 16, 2018 at 6:56 PM

 (Boston, MA, January 16, 2018) Sullivan & Worcester LLP has filed its papers in the appeal by its clients, the members of the Berkshire Museum who sued to enjoin the museum’s sale of 40 works of art and sculpture.  The appeal was brought as a result of the Berkshire County Superior Court’s November 7, 2017 denial of their request for an injunction, and dismissal of the case.  That order denied not only the members’ request, but also a motion by another group that includes Norman Rockwell’s sons and the motion by Attorney General Maura Healey to pause the sale originally scheduled for November 13, 2017 at Sotheby’s in New York—a sale that would have included Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop and other masterpieces. 

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Topics: Berkshire Museum, Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Maura Healey, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sotheby's, Zenas Crane, Pittsfield, Hudson River School, Frederic Edwin Church, Massachusetts Appeals Court

Event—Wealth Management Strategies for Art Collectors

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 27, 2017 at 9:34 AM

I’m looking forward to taking part in an event on Thursday hosted by Fortress Museum Quality Storage in Boston discussing art collecting in the context of wealth management.  Panelists are listed below, RSVPs can be sent to info@artadvisors.org by today.

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Topics: Fortress Museum Quality Storage, The College Club of Boston, Margaret Bussiere, Henry B. Greenberg, U.S Trust, Megan Fox Kelly, Thomas Burns, Sullivan & Worcester LLP

Members of the Berkshire Museum Appeal Ruling on Planned Sale of Critical Pieces of its Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 20, 2017 at 10:22 AM

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has filed an appeal on behalf of its clients, the members of the Berkshire Museum who sued to enjoin the museum’s sale of 40 works of art and sculpture.  The appeal is brought as a result of the Berkshire County Superior Court’s November 7, 2017 denial of their request for an injunction, and dismissal of the case (before the Appeals Court utlimately enjoined the sale until at least December).  That Superior Court order denied not only the members’ request, but also a motion by another group that include Norman Rockwell’s sons and the motion by Attorney General Maura Healey to pause the sale originally scheduled for November 13, 2017 at Sotheby’s in New York—a sale that would have included Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop and other masterpieces. 

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Topics: Berkshire Museum, Norman Rockwell, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Maura Healey, Attorney General, Zenas Crane, Berkshire County Superior Court, Sotheby's

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