4 May 2021

Art@Law | Constantine Cannon

Europe

Germany to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria beginning in 2022: Germany has promised to return its trove of looted artworks known as the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria beginning in 2022. Some five hundred of the more than 90,000 brass, bronze, and ivory objects stolen by British soldiers in 1897 from the Republic of Benin (now Nigeria) are held in the collection of Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum at the Humboldt Forum, with still more in the possession of more than twenty other museums across the country.

30.04.2021, Artforum: Germany to return  Benin Bronzes to Nigeria beginning in 2022

30.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Germany pledges to return Benin bronzes to Nigeria starting in 2022

29.04.2021, Artnet: In a ‘historic milestone,’ Germany will begin to return Benin Bronzes from its public collections to Nigeria in 2022

Nicolas Poussin painting in London, long believed to be a copy, gets reattributed: The National Gallery in London has long held one of the world’s greatest collections of paintings by Nicolas Poussin, with more than a dozen paintings by the 17th-century French artist in its holdings. Recent research has revealed that the museum owns one more Poussin painting than it thought it did.

30.04.2021, Art News: Nicolas Poussin painting in London, long believed to be a copy, gets reattributed

29.04.2021, The Guardian: Poussin painting ‘copy’ to hang in main galleries with new label

29.04.2021, Artnet: A Bacchanalian painting once thought to be a copy of a Poussin has been reattributed to the French master

Acropolis renovation plans spark accusations that it’s ‘just another way to fit in more tourists’: Plans for a major renovation project to the western entrance of the Acropolis have met with strong opposition from archaeologists in Greece and across the world. In an open letter to the public, the signatories, including figures from the universities of Oxford, Durham and Brown, called for the -cancellation of a project they believe will lead to the “devaluation, concealment and degradation of the greatest archaeological and artistic treasure that has been bequeathed to modern Greece”.

28.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Acropolis renovation plans spark accusations that it’s ‘just another way to fit in more tourists’

Priceless set of stolen medieval relics finally recovered in Italy: A priceless reliquary dedicated to an Italian saint who inspired a sword-in-the-stone legend similar to that of Excalibur has been recovered by police after being stolen more than 30 years ago.

28.04.2021, The Telegraph: Priceless set of stolen medieval relics finally recovered in Italy

28.04.2021, Art News: In ‘unprecedented’ find, stolen medieval artifacts recovered from Sicilian collector’s home

28.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Rare medieval reliquary—stolen near Siena 32 years ago—discovered at collector’s home in Sicily

Tate modern’s neighbours will take privacy lawsuit to U.K. Supreme Court: After losing an appeal that would force Tate Modern to close a portion of its 360-degree viewing gallery, owners of four units in a nearby luxury building will take their case to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The case is expected to be heard later this year.

27.04.2021, Art News: Tate modern’s neighbours will take privacy lawsuit to U.K. Supreme Court

27.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Tate Modern neighbours head to Supreme Court over ‘relentless’ invasion of privacy

Bavarian State restitutes Nazi-looted medieval painting to heirs of German-American art dealers: The Bavarian State Painting Collections, which is based in Munich and manages the art collections of museums located throughout the German state of Bavaria, has restituted a painting to the heirs of an important German-American art dealership. The work is believed to have been sold under duress by the art dealers as part of the Nazi Party’s strategy to disenfranchise Jewish people.

26.04.2021, Art News:Bavarian State restitutes Nazi-looted medieval painting to heirs of German-American art dealers

26.04.2021, Artnet: The Bavarian state painting collections has returned a medieval work unlawfully sold by Nazis to its rightful heirs

United States

Basquiat NFT withdrawn from auction after artist’s estate intervenes: An NFT of a drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat has been withdrawn from sale on OpenSea after the late artist’s estate confirmed the seller does not own the licence or rights to the work.

28.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Basquiat NFT withdrawn from auction after artist’s estate intervenes

28.04.2021, Artforum: Basquiat NFT pulled from auction after sparking controversy 

Trump protest work recovered by FBI four years after being stolen by white supremacists: Four years after being stolen by white nationalists in Tennessee, a flag work bearing the words He Will Not Divide Us, a protest of Donald Trump’s presidency by Luke Turner, has been recovered by the FBI and returned to the British artist.

28.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Trump protest work recovered by FBI four years after being stolen by white supremacists

Maine attorney general says that Robert Indiana’s estate was overcharged by as much as $3.7m in legal fees: Legal battles surrounding Robert Indiana’s estate began the day before the artist’s death in May 2018 and have raged on for nearly three years since. Though they morphed into multiple allegations of wrongdoing—including serious claims of neglect, exploitation, forgery and theft by Indiana’s caretaker—the heart of the legal battle concerns the future of the artist’s remaining assets, which are valued at some $90m, and his legacy.

26.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Maine attorney general says that Robert Indiana’s estate was overcharged by as much as $3.7m in legal fees

23.04.2021, The New York Times: Maine officials say artist’s estate overpaid lawyers by $3.7 million

World

A year of transition: art fairs get experimental: The global art fair industry, wiped out for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic, is creeping back to real life. In April, Art Dubai became one of the first such events to happen, while this week, Frieze opens its doors again in New York (The Shed, May 5-9). Such gentle returns are an endorsement of the art market’s in-person gatherings and point to how the experience of art fairs could change even after a compromised year.

30.04.2021, The Financial Times: A year of transition: art fairs get experimental

Korean museums to receive 23,000 works from Samsung estate in $11bn tax settlement: Around 23,000 works of art from the collection of the late Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee are due to be donated to museums and institutions across South Korea to help pay a massive inheritance tax bill of 12 trillion won ($10.8bn).

29.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Korean museums to receive 23,000 works from Samsung estate in $11bn tax settlement

28.04.2021, Art News: Samsung family donates 23,000 works to S. Korean museums amid $11 billion tax bill

As auctioneers and artists rush into NFTs, many collectors stay away: A handful of auctions this month testing the appetite for a type of investment known as NFTs seemed likely to prolong the nascent fad for ownership of works that exist only in the digital world. Missing from those transactions, however, were the blue-chip collectors who typically drive the art market’s sales.

28.04.2021, The New York Times: As auctioneers and artists rush into NFTs, many collectors stay away

An Indonesian theme park must destroy its knockoff of Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’ after losing a suit brought by the artist’s estate: An Indonesian selfie paradise has been ordered to destroy one of its most popular attractions due to a copyright violation. The offending photo op, Love Light, appears to be a ripoff of Urban Light (2008), the famed public art installation by the late artist Chris Burden.

27.04.2021, Artnet: An Indonesian theme park must destroy its knockoff of Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’ after losing a suit brought by the artist’s estate

Museums weigh in on the vaccine passport debate, as countries are under pressure to open up their economies: Denmark and Israel have introduced vaccine passports as a way to ease their populations out of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and speed up the return to public life. Such schemes are now being closely watched as potential models for other countries around the world. But while visitors to Danish museums will need to show their “coronapas” to gain admission from 6 May, Israeli museums are exempt from the country’s “green pass” programme.

26.04.2021, The Art Newspaper: Museums weigh in on the vaccine passport debate, as countries are under pressure to open up their economies

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