Upper East Side Gallery Sues Landlord, Claiming It Lawfully Terminated Lease After COVID-19 Forced Closure
05/27/2020Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions on businesses, there has been much discussion about whether, when, and how commercial tenants can break their leases or be relieved from rent-payment obligations when they are unable to conduct business on leased premises. Last week, a Manhattan art gallery sued its landlord for declaring a default under the lease when the gallery failed to make its April rent payment, arguing that the lease was lawfully terminated on April 1 in light of the executive orders that restrict the operation of New York’s non-essential businesses.
Lawsuit By Noted Artist Against Her Former Gallery Serves As a Reminder of the Important Duties Galleries Owe To Artists
05/15/2020Abstract artist Howardena Pindell has sued several individuals and entities related to the G.R. N’Namdi Galleries, which, beginning in the late 1980s, represented her work in spaces located in Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Miami. The case raises a host of legal issues that are, unfortunately, all too common in the realm of artist-gallery relationships.
Grossman LLP Wins Preliminary Skirmish In Federal Case Against NBCUniversal Executive
This week, Grossman LLP notched an initial victory on behalf of its client, art advisor Susan Seidel, who is in litigation with art collector and Universal Studios executive Ronald Meyer over a 2001 art deal. The Manhattan-based team, aided by its California local counsel, persuaded a federal judge that the lawsuit should proceed in New York, not in Meyer’s chosen forum of California. The ruling is a reminder that the question of where an art dispute should be litigated can be an important one, and that a plaintiff’s preference may not always prevail.
Tiger King: The Trademark and Copyright Infringement Actions at the Center of the Feud Between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin
04/15/2020Netflix’s “Tiger King” has become one of the streaming service’s most popular series in the last few weeks, documenting the years-long fight between Joe Exotic (né Schreibvogel), the self-proclaimed “Tiger King,” and Carole Baskin, founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue Corp. (“Big Cat Rescue”). The feud led to three separate intellectual-property lawsuits that bankrupted Exotic and serve as a cautionary tale as to how competitive antics can have severe legal consequences.
How COVID-19 May Impact the Art Law Sphere In the Coming Months
03/31/2020In the few short weeks since our last post in this space, the world has changed in staggering ways. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on governments, businesses, economies, markets, communities, and most importantly, countless families and lives.
The current crisis has also profoundly impacted the larger art world. We do not claim to have any special powers to predict the future of the art market, particularly in the face of this unprecedented crisis. But as seasoned litigators with years of experience in art law, here are a few thoughts about what we may see in the coming months in the realm of art disputes, as the ramifications of this pandemic continue to unfold.
Artists Win Second Circuit Appeal In 5Pointz Graffiti Art Case
02/25/2020We’ve been following the 5Pointz case since its inception, through summary judgment, a trial, an advisory jury verdict for the plaintiffs, and a decision by federal district judge Frederic Block, who issued an award of $6.75 million (and later declined to reconsider that award). Now, three federal appellate judges from the Second Circuit have weighed in, unanimously upholding Judge Block’s award and his reasoning in this groundbreaking case regarding graffiti art.
Grossman LLP Obtains Unanimous Affirmance On Appeal In Collector’s Quest To Reclaim Chagall From London Galleries
02/11/2020Last summer, Grossman LLP was pleased to announce a major victory in an important lawsuit arising out of the massive Chowaiki scandal. And today, just several weeks after Judd Grossman argued the appeal in the First Department Appellate Division, that ruling has been upheld, paving the way for efforts to recover the Chagall painting.
Grossman LLP Achieves Summary Judgment Victory On Behalf of Helwaser Gallery In Dispute Over Calder Stabile
01/30/2020This week, a federal court handed a decisive victory to the Helwaser Gallery and its owner, Antoine Helwaser, in a long-running dispute over a sculpture by famed artist Alexander Calder. The summary judgment decision, penned by Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York, overwhelmingly accepted the arguments advanced by Grossman LLP on behalf of Helwaser.
Russian Collector’s Claims Against Sotheby’s Clear Initial Hurdle
In Ongoing Rybolovlev-Bouvier Feud
07/19/2019For years now, we have followed the bitter dispute between Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, and his onetime art dealer, Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier. Now, a new ruling permits Rybolovlev-affiliated entities to move forward with claims that auction house Sotheby’s facilitated Bouvier’s purported fraud. (The news comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that Sotheby’s is being acquired by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi, in a deal that will take the auction house off the publicly-traded stock market and put it back in private hands.)
Citing Delay, Second Circuit Affirms That Met Can Keep Picasso
Purportedly Sold Under Duress During World War II;
Meanwhile, New York Appellate Court Affirms
That Two Schiele Works Should Go Back To Holocaust Victim’s Family
07/15/2019A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the lower court’s decision that the Metropolitan Museum of Art may keep a “rose period” Picasso painting despite claims that it was sold by a German-Jewish family to escape Nazi persecution in Italy during World War II. See Zuckerman v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Case No. 18‐634, -- F.3d – (2d Cir., June 26, 2019).
Old Master Forgery Story Update: New Developments In Two Sotheby’s Lawsuits to Recover Proceeds From Sales of Alleged Fakes
04/12/2019We have written on several occasions (see here, here, and here) about the tangle of disputes that have arisen from the discovery of multiple suspected forgeries of Old Master artworks. Now, one such dispute has reached a settlement, and another has resulted in a judgment for Sotheby’s; but other questions about these works, and the Old Master market generally, remain.
German Cathedral Surrenders Nazi-Looted Artwork To Heirs of Jewish Owners; Meanwhile, A Separate Art Recovery Suit Ends in Defeat, Illustrating Continuing Challenges in Nazi-Era Restitution Litigation
03/28/2019Last week, a cathedral in Germany agreed to turn over a valuable painting to the heirs of the family from whom it was stolen during World War II. The case marks another example of the type of negotiated restitution that has become an important factor in art disputes in recent years, but stands in stark contrast to another dispute that ended in defeat a few months ago for the heirs of a Jewish art dealer who fled Germany in the years leading up to World War II.
The Supreme Court Clarifies Pre-Suit Copyright Registration Requirement
03/18/2019In a unanimous decision earlier this month, the Supreme Court resolved a debate that impacts would-be copyright infringement litigants.
Motion Practice Regarding Expert Witnesses In Prince Instagram Cases May Have Larger Implications For Fair Use Law
02/26/2019We here at Grossman LLP, along with many other legal commentators, have been following with interest the lawsuits against appropriation artist Richard Prince arising out of his controversial New Portraits works, first shown at the Gagosian Gallery in 2014, which Prince created from screen shots of photos taken by other Instagram users. The court is now considering the defendants’ motions for summary judgment on the issue of fair use, which have been fully briefed. But along with the main event—the summary judgment motion—the court is also considering additional motions filed by both parties with regard to each other’s expert witnesses. These motions are worth examining because they will presumably be resolved along with the summary judgment decision, and they raise some interesting questions that may have implications in the larger arena of fair use case law.
Collector Sues London Art Gallery for Failing to Disclose Price History of Two Paintings
02/20/2019A lawsuit pending in the United Kingdom continues the ongoing debate about how much due diligence buyers must perform when purchasing artwork, including whether such buyers must investigate price histories.
Lawsuit By Gallery Against Former Employee Raises Questions About Confidential Information In The Art Trade
02/15/2019A contentious lawsuit is underway between a Manhattan art gallery and its former director over her handling of purportedly-confidential information when she quit her job to accept a position at another gallery. The case raises potentially important questions about one of the key assets of any art business—information about its customers and contacts.
Parties Reach Settlement In Copyright Infringement Suit Over Artwork Appearing in Music Video
01/28/2019Last year, we wrote about the federal lawsuit filed by visual artist Lina Iris Viktor, which alleged that her copyrights in three original artworks were infringed in the music video of a song, “All the Stars,” from the soundtrack of last year’s blockbuster movie Black Panther. She sued the song’s recording artists—Kendrick Lamar and SZA—as well as the record label and the video’s director and production company, among others.
Court Dismisses Artist’s $100 Million Antitrust Suit Against Prominent Museums
01/21/2019One artist’s crusade against what he perceives to be anticompetitive behavior in the New York art world has come to an end—at least for now—as a federal judge dismissed his antitrust claims against five museums.
Summary Judgment Decision Looms In Two “New Portraits” Lawsuits Against Richard Prince
12/19/2018Ever since Richard Prince’s “New Portraits” project first made headlines, we’ve been following the story—and the copyright implications. Now, two lawsuits that arose out of that controversial exhibition are headed for a summary judgment ruling.
New Report Urges Major Initiative To Facilitate Restitution of Art and Artifacts From France to African Nations
11/26/2018Last December, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, gave a speech lamenting the fact that French museums hold a vast array of African art and artifacts, and pledged that, “In the next five years, I want the conditions to be created for the temporary or permanent restitution of African patrimony to Africa.” At the time, there was little in the way of specific detail about how that might happen, but this past spring, Macron commissioned a study to examine how that objective could be accomplished. Now, the experts tasked with that study have released a key report that makes a variety of recommendations that, if implemented, would represent a massive repatriation project for France.
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