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.
Updates From Across the Pond: New Developments In Two Major Stories From the European Art Market
01/08/2020As the new year begins, we write with some brief updates on two significant stories we’ve been following for some time. One involves the ongoing issues arising out of the discovery of several forged Old Master works on the European art market. The other involves a bitter, globe-spanning feud between a mega-collector and his onetime dealer. And both of these complex situations will continue to reverberate throughout the art ecosystem.
A British Court Just Froze the Assets of Inigo Philbrick, a Dealer Accused of Holding $14 Million Worth of Art Hostage
11/14/2019The scandal surrounding troubled art dealer Inigo Philbrick is heating up. A British judge has issued an order to freeze millions of dollars worth of his assets in the wake of several lawsuits alleging that he is improperly holding or has sold major artworks that don’t belong to him.CATEGORY: Art Market
Rudolf Stingel Painting at Center of Inigo Philbrick Lawsuit Faces Another Ownership Claim
11/14/2019The artwork at the center of a lawsuit against dealer Inigo Philbrick now has new claims that complicate a story that includes accusations of a fake auction guarantee. In a lawsuit filed last week with the Supreme Court of New York, Guzzini Properties, Ltd., a company that collects art, claimed ownership of the work against competing claims from Aleksandar Pesko, whose company is Satfinance Investment Ltd. and Germany’s Fine Art Partners.CATEGORY: Art Market
Further Relief For Art Authenticators: New York State Court Dismisses Second Complaint Against Agnes Martin’s Catalogue Raisonné
09/06/2019This summer, a New York Supreme Court judge threw out another complaint filed in a long-running legal battle between London art dealer James Mayor’s gallery and members of the Agnes Martin catalogue raisonné committee, providing further comfort for art authenticators who may face litigation in retaliation for their opinions.
Grossman LLP Defeats Efforts to Dismiss Collector’s Replevin Claims Against London Dealers
08/01/2019More than a year has passed since New York dealer Ezra Chowaiki pled guilty to federal charges related to his misconduct in cheating numerous clients in fraudulent art deals. But the legal fallout continues. Many of his victims and business associates have asserted claims (for money or art) in connection with the bankruptcy of his gallery, Chowaiki & Co., as well as in federal forfeiture proceedings that allow claimants to assert their rights to artworks ordered forfeited to the government as part of Chowaiki’s guilty plea.
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.
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.
Russian Billionaire Rybolovlev Sues Sotheby’s For Allegedly Facilitating Dealer’s Massive Markups
11/05/2018The long-running, globe-spanning dispute between two powerful figures in the international art world has taken a new turn, as one of the parties levels formal claims against auction giant Sotheby’s for its role in multiple purportedly fraudulent art deals. The case continues to shine a spotlight on the often-convoluted and opaque nature of high-end art transactions.
New Lawsuit Highlights Importance of Clear Documentation When Loaning Artworks – Even To Family
10/26/2018This week, a family dispute over a Max Ferguson painting ripened into litigation, providing a cautionary tale for art collectors who loan their works to institutions and family members.
Litigation Highlights Risks of Art Financing
08/20/2018A recently-filed lawsuit provides insight into some of the risks involved in art transactions given the increased use of creative purchase structures and financing arrangements in the art market.
Dealer Looks to Christie’s For Reimbursement After Learning That Work Sold in 2008 Auction Was Nazi Loot
06/08/2018We continue to follow the ongoing conversation in the art world about how best to handle disputes over artwork that was looted or displaced during the chaos and persecution of World War II. As one recent story demonstrates, sometimes a current possessor demonstrates willingness to return a work to rightful claimants but looks to a third party for compensation for the loss.
U.S. Congressman Introduces Bill to Apply the Bank Secrecy Act to "Dealers in Art and Antiquities"
05/31/2018In a recent post, we discussed the European Parliament’s adoption earlier this month of a new Directive that will have far-reaching effects on Europe’s art market. We predicted that the United States might soon follow the EU’s lead by implementing similar legislation. Now, the U.S. Congress is officially headed down the same path.
Judge Refuses to Halt Sotheby’s Auction of Monumental Basquiat Work
05/11/2018Earlier this week, Justice O. Peter Sherwood of the New York County Supreme Court rejected collector Hubert Neumann’s attempt to prevent Sotheby’s from auctioning off Jean-Michael Basquiat’s monumental work, Flesh and Spirit.
Recently Adopted Anti-Money Laundering Directive Will Significantly Affect European Art Market
05/02/2018On April 19, the European Parliament—the legislative body of the European Union—adopted the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The new legislation will significantly affect Europe’s art market, and prominent members of the art world have already expressed their concerns about the practical consequences of the Directive.
Collector Sues Jeff Koons LLC and Gagosian Gallery Over Failure to Deliver Three Koons Works
04/26/2018In a lawsuit filed last week in New York state court (see No. 651889/2018, N.Y. Co.), an art collector has sued over the problems he purportedly encountered in purchasing a sculpture by famed artist Jeff Koons.
Encouraging News For Art Authenticators: New York State Court Tosses Claims Against Agnes Martin’s Catalogue Raisonné
04/11/2018In an important ruling issued last week, a New York state court dismissed claims by an art dealer who sued an artist’s catalogue raisonné for rejecting works the plaintiff had submitted for authentication. The case has the potential to set an important precedent protecting art authenticators from disgruntled art owners.
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