Art Law

Art Law

New Legislation Would Protect Art Authenticators Against ‘Nuisance’ Lawsuits

Christie's Post War and Contemporary Art Sale - Photocall

Over the 15 years that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board was in operation, it was sued “10 or so times, maybe more,” by disgruntled owners of paintings that they hoped had been created by the Pop artist, according to Joel Wachs, the president of the Andy Warhol Foundation. In each instance, the authentication board decided that submitted artworks were not genuine Warhols. “We won every single one of those lawsuits, but the process was extraordinarily expensive, costing us at least $10 million defending ourselves,” he said. “Eventually, we decided that we wanted our money to go to artists and not to lawyers,” which led the foundation to disband the authentication board in 2012. Read More

Art Law

Work on Paper: Art Collecting Increasingly Requires Lengthy Contracts

Welcome to the new world of high-priced art buying, where the traditional handshake is increasingly being replaced by a formal contract.

This week, at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach fair, many millions of dollars worth of art will change hands. But while the handshake agreements may take place in the convention center, the paperwork will be far from finished. Today’s corporate-minded contemporary art buyers require contracts containing numerous waivers, contingencies, stipulations and assignment of risk. And new collectors from the world’s developing art markets, like China and Brazil, are acquiring artworks through agents before setting eyes on them, increasing the need for lengthy written agreements. Read More

Art Law

Basquiat’s Family Is Suing the IRS


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sisters, Lisane and Jeanine, are taking the Internal Revenue Service to court, claiming that it overvalued their brother’s estate, DNAinfo reports. The siblings are pursuing a suit filed by their father, Gerard Basquiat, in May, a few months before his death in July. The late artist’s estate includes over 1,300 of his drawings and paintings as well as 36 works by other artists, including Andy Warhol.  Read More

Art Law

Ruling on Disputed Schiele Drawing Offers Collectors Protection Against Some Ownership Claims

Egon Schiele, 'Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (Torso),' (1917). (Courtesy Pryor Cashman LLP)

Yesterday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision in a seven-year legal dispute over the ownership of a drawing by Egon Schiele, saying the current owner of the drawing could keep it despite a claim by heirs of a collector killed during World War II that it had once been stolen from his estate. The case gives a measure of relief, in some instances, to people who buy art in good faith and then have their ownership questioned by allegations that the art was once stolen. Read More

Art Law

Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill Protecting Artists’ Rights

Gov. Cuomo. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that makes it a misdemeanor for an art dealer to use funds owed to an artist from the sale of an artwork to pay for gallery operating expenses and creditors. The Senate passed the bill in June, and Gov. Cuomo signed it earlier this month. Its was inspired by instances of dealers dipping into artists’ funds when experiencing financial hardship. Read More

Art Law

Family and Finder Fight Over Newly Discovered James Castle Works

The cover of a James Castle catalogue by Allan Gurganus. (Courtesy Lawrence Markey, Inc.)

In 2010, some 150 pieces of art and three books by James Castle, the artist best known for his psychologically charged drawings in soot and saliva, were found in the ceiling of a home in which he had once lived, in Boise, Idaho, by its current resident, Jeannie Schmidt, who claims she is the rightful owner of the work. Members of the extended family of Mr. Castle, who died in 1977, argue that they rightfully own the works, which could be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Now the two sides are battling it out in court, the Associated Press reports. Read More

Art Law

New Legislation to Protect Foreign Art Lenders From Lawsuits on U.S. Soil

When the Stedelijk Museum loans works by Malevich to the Met, a legal battle was sparked. (Photo by Eric Arnau/Flickr)

Eight years ago, while a group of paintings by the Russian modernist Kazimir Malevich was on loan to the Menil Collection in Houston, the artist’s heirs, who had been attempting to recover them, sued the city of Amsterdam, home to the Stedelijk Museum, which had loaned the works. In 2005 the U.S. federal court hearing the case ruled that even if loaned art could not be seized under federal law, the presence of the artwork in the U.S. could still provide a basis for suing the foreign-government lender for damages. The decision effectively opened up a new path to allow litigation for chasing wrongfully taken art, and some foreign governments refused to lend to U.S. museums out of fear that they would be hauled into court. Read More