Art Museums in the Pandemic


Katie and Steve welcome back to the podcast museum director, art commentator, and art historian Max Anderson to discuss what art museums (now closed) are dealing with during the Covid-19 crisis in terms of mission, funding, audience engagement and an uncertain future.  They discuss structural issues and practices pre-existing the pandemic that put pressure on museums’ stated missions and appeal, as well as potential shifts in focus and priority that may come out of this current moment of reorganization and prioritization.

This is the first of several episodes of the Art Law Podcast discussing the impact of the pandemic and its accompanying shut downs on the art world.

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A Note from Steve and Katie:

We want to send a big “thank you” to all of our new listeners and subscribers.  We are following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and will begin recording new episodes remotely very soon.  Please continue to check this page for updates and bonus content.

Moral Rights in Street Art: The 5Pointz Story – Revisited


In this bonus episode, Steve analyzes the recent Second Circuit decision affirming the 2018 decision awarding $6.75 million to the artists of 5Pointz, whose works were whitewashed and torn down by the building’s owner in 2013.  To put this important decision into a broader context, we have re-released our April 2018 episode on 5Pointz, where we discuss the district court case in which the aerosol artists asserted violations of their moral rights under the Visual Artist Rights Act, the U.S. moral rights statute.  In that episode, Steve and Katie discuss the origin and contours of moral rights, how they fit into U.S. copyright law, the story of 5Pointz and the laws around street art and graffiti. They are joined by famous aerosol artist Jonathan Cohen (Meres One), 5Pointz event planner and artist representative Marie Cecile Flageul, and Renee Vara, the artists’ expert in the 5Pointz trial.

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Art of the Chase: Inside Art Auctions – Revisited


This month, we are updating and rereleasing one of our most popular episodes, Art of the Chase: Inside Art Auctions.  In this episode, we take a close look at art auctions – how they work, their place in the art market and the rules and regulations that confine/define them.  Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s now regularly net tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars for a single work.  Christie’s sold Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting for $450 million in 2017, still, by far, the highest price ever garnered by a piece of art at auction.  At the same time, much about the auction process remains secret.  The identity of the buyer and seller is often known only to the auction house, and the reserve price (below which an artwork will not be sold) is known by the auctioneer but not the bidders.  While the auctioneer may not sell a work of art below its reserve price, it can bid on the work below the reserve to get the auction going.  Steve and Katie discuss these issues and others having to do with regulation, transparency and potential conflicts, and welcome famous Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker to take us behind the scenes of a big auction.

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Arts Organizations Seek Change Via Deaccessioning: The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art and Painted Bride Art Center


Steve and Katie discuss two recent art world controversies involving small, local nonprofits seeking to raise money through asset divestment.  The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Napa Valley is attempting to deaccession most of its permanent collection of Bay Area art works in the face of vocal art world opposition. In Philadelphia, the proposed sale of the Painted Bride Art Center building by the organization’s board, including its one of a kind mosaic mural façade, has raised public protest and legal challenge.  Both entities claim they need funds to continue their mission, while critics say the act of selling off the assets at issue in each case directly undercuts such mission.

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