Art Law Report

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

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

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: Norman Rockwell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Sotheby's, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum, Zenas Crane, Hudson River School, Frederic Edwin Church, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Maura Healey, 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: Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Fortress Museum Quality Storage, The College Club of Boston, Margaret Bussiere, U.S Trust, Henry B. Greenberg, Megan Fox Kelly, Thomas Burns

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

Members of Berkshire Museum File Suit Seeking Injunction Against Sale of Art Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 26, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Forty Masterpieces of American and European Art Scheduled for Auction

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Topics: Norman Rockwell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Sotheby's, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Pittsfield, Zenas Crane, Trustees of the Berkshire Museum, Hudson River School, Frederic Edwin Church, Pieter de Hooch, Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop

New Book by Nicholas M. O'Donnell: "A Tragic Fate--Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi Looted Art"

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 19, 2017 at 11:46 AM

New book explores the historical, ethical, and legal consequences of stolen art

I am pleased to announce that my book A Tragic Fate—Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi-Looted Art (Ankerwycke/ABA Publishing ) is available for purchase and delivery.  I am proud to have composed the first comprehensive overview of looted art disputes in the United States, grounded in the historical and ethical perspectives that have shaped the debate over time.  This has been a fascinating project that am very excited to share.  As I hope readers of the blog will agree, my effort is always to provide a resource that those of general interest will find engaging but not hypertechincal, and which practioners will find useful as a resource. 

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Topics: Catherine Hickley, Nazi-looted art, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Books, Georgina Adam, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Art Law Report, ABA Publishing, Ankerwycke, A Tragic Fate, Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi-Looted Art

New Publication: Éthique et patrimoine culturel—Regard croisés

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 2, 2017 at 10:56 AM

L'Harmattan has published a new volume entitled Éthique et patrimoine culturel—Regard croisés (Ethics and Cultural Patrimony: Viewpoints), which is a collection of papers presented at a conference in October, 2015 at L'Ecole du Louvre in Paris.  I spoke at the conference and submitted the full treatment of my remarks to the book entitled "Public Trust or Private Business? Deaccessioning Law and Ethics in the United States."  My co-presenters were eloquent and their expanded research and essays are well worth reading.  Copies can be ordered here.

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Topics: cultural property, Denis Michel Boëll, Ecole du Louvre, National Consultative Ethics Committee, Deaccession, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Marie Cornu, Musée de la Marine, Council of Voluntary Sales, Tehran, Baptiste Brown, Marie Berducou, Stéphane Duroy, University of Toulouse Capitole, Michel Van Praët, University of Shahid Beheshti, Philippe Durey, Arnaud Beaufort, University of Poitiers, University Western Bretagne, Nathalie Heinich, Milan, Julien Chapuis, Pinacoteca di Brera, French National Commission for UNESCO, Philippe-Henri Dutheil, University Rennes, Vincent Negri, Céline Castets- Fox, Astrid Müller Katzenburg, Sophie Vigneron, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, University of Kent, Museum for Byzantine Sculpture Collections and Art, Noëlle Timbart, Dominique Jarrassé, Claire Barbillon, Gilles Ragot, University of Montreal, State Museums in Berlin, International Society For Law Research of Cultural, Edouard Planche, Emmanuelle Polack, Université Paris Sud, EY Société d’avocats, Janet Blake, Jacques Bittoun, Catherine Chadelat, Jérôme Fromageau, Vincent Gautrais, Geraldine Goffaux Callebaut, Daniel Janicot

Heirs of Nazi-Persecuted Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim Sue Bavarian Museums

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 6, 2016 at 11:20 AM

Paintings by Beckmann, Gris and Klee Valued at Nearly $20 Million That Once Belonged to Flechtheim Are at Issue in New York Lawsuit

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has filed suit against Bavaria and its state museums in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on behalf of our clients Dr. Michael Hulton and Mrs. Penny Hulton, heirs to the renowned and persecuted Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.  The Hultons have asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to restitute several paintings by Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Juan Gris that are now in the possession of the German federal state of Bavaria, Adolf Hitler’s and the Nazi party’s homeland, and its Bavarian State Paintings Collections (known in German as the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, or BSGS).  We are aided in this case by our co-counsel Markus Stoetzel and Mel Urbach, Esq.

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Cornelius Gurlitt, Deutschlandradio. Deutsche Presse Agentur, Monuments Men, Nazi-looted art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Max Beckmann, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, Paul Klee, FSIA, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, Bavaria, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, World War II, Alfred Flechteim, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Dr. Michael Hulton, Juan Gris, George Grosz

Symposium: "Ethics and Cultural Patrimony - Viewpoints," in Paris October 20-21, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 24, 2015 at 8:22 AM

I am looking forward to participating next month in a symposium entitled :"Ethics and Cultural Patrimony: Viewpoints" at L'Ecole du Louvre in Paris on October 20-21, 2015. The event is organized by L’Institut Droit Ethique Patrimoine (Institute of Law, Ethics and Heritage), in partnership with l’Institut d’Etudes de droit public (Institute of Public Law Studies) and l’Ecole du Louvre, and take place at the Ecole du Louvre, Palais du Louvre, porte Jaujard, place du Carrousel, 75001 Paris. The conference website (with registration) can be found here, and the brochure can be opened here.

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Topics: Bordeaux University Montaigne, cultural property, Lafferière-François Julien, Denis Michel Boëll, Ecole du Louvre, National Consultative Ethics Committee, Deaccession, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Marie Cornu, James Bradburne, Geraldine Goffaux Callebau, Musée de la Marine, Council of Voluntary Sales, Tehran, Astrid Müller-Katzenberg, Baptiste Brown, Conservation, ICOM, Marie Berducou, Stéphane Duroy, University of Toulouse Capitole, National Heritage Institute, Michel Van Praët, University of Shahid Beheshti, Paris, Philippe Durey, Arnaud Beaufort, University of Poitiers, University Western Bretagne, Nathalie Heinich, Milan, Julien Chapuis, Pinacoteca di Brera, French National Commission for UNESCO, Philippe-Henri Dutheil, University Rennes, Vincent Negri, Durey Philippe, Céline Castets- Fox, Gurlitt, Restitution, Sophie Vigneron, Bittoun Jacques, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, University Institute of France, University of Kent, Museum for Byzantine Sculpture Collections and Art, National Library of France, Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of, Noëlle Timbart, Chadelat Catherine, Dominique Jarrassé, Claire Barbillon, Janicot Daniel, Gilles Ragot, University of Montreal, State Museums in Berlin, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, International Society For Law Research of Cultural, Edouard Planche, Emmanuelle Polack, Fromageau Jérôme, Université Paris Sud, EY Société d’avocats, Gautrais Vincent, Janet Blake

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