This month Katie and Steve talk about a few important art law cases from 2018 ranging from Nazi looting, to Italian fisherman discovering an ancient Greek statue, to the risks catalogue raisonné committees face when offering even indirect opinions on authenticity. The specific cases discussed are Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, No. 16-56308 (9thCir. 2018); the Getty Bronze case decided by the Italian Court of Cassation; and Mayor Gallery Ltd. v. The Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné LLC, No. 655489/2016, 2018 WL 1638810 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 5, 2018).
Katie and Steve speak with Nanne Dekking, the founder and CEO of Artory and Chairman of the European Fine Art Fair, about Artory’s efforts to use blockchain to create a transparent registry of art sales, the general challenges to transparency in the fine art market, the problem of detecting fakes and forgeries and trustworthy counterparties, and blockchain’s limitations.
Katie and Steve speak with Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of The Fine Art Group, about art funds, art financing, and financial guarantees of auctions sales. They also explore how art is performing as an asset class. Philip started the first “art fund” in 2002, and he is one of the world’s leading experts on the financialization of art.
Artist Aviva Rahmani speaks to Steve and Katie about her artistic practice investigating and using the law. Her current work, Blued Trees Symphony, is a musical and visual art work installed along miles of proposed pipeline expansion on land subject to possible eminent domain. Rahmani has copyrighted the work and plans to use the Visual Artist Rights Act to prevent the art’s destruction, thereby frustrating the building of pipeline.
Katie and Steve get an update from attorney Nicholas O’Donnell about the status of the lawsuit he brought on behalf of certain members of the Berkshire Museum for breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, in relation to the Museum’s sale of much of its valuable art collection to pay for operating and capital expenses. While much of the art has been sold, the members fight on. Nick explains the unusual posture of the case to our listeners.
*Note: On Monday, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ended the Berkshire Museum deaccessioning legal saga by upholding a decision by the court that members of the Berkshire Museum do not have standing to sue the Museum challenging the conduct of its Board of Directors.