29 July 2019

Art@Law | Constantine Cannon

Europe

To deal or not to deal: provenance and morality in recent sale at Christie’s: Earlier this month, controversy surrounded one particular lot in the ‘The Exceptional Sale’ at Christie’s in London. The object of the controversy was ‘An Egyptian Brown Quartzite Head of the God Amen with the features of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’, dated to the Reign of Tutankhamen, c. 1333-1323 BC, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty. The lot (no. 110) was offered from a private collection in Germany and was soon scooped up for the price of £4,746,250 (including Buyer’s Premium) by another private collector. The reason for the controversy stems from the fact that the provenance of the object is unclear prior to the 1960s and the Egyptian government, together with a community organisation in the UK called ‘Egyptian House’, strongly contested the sale, claiming the object should be returned to Egypt. 

26.07.2019, The Institute of Art and Law: To deal or not to deal: provenance and morality in recent sale at Christie’s 

Nicky Morgan appointed UK’s new culture secretary: Nicky Morgan has been appointed UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by the new prime minister Boris Johnson. She is the fourth incumbent in post since 2016, following Karen Bradley, Matt Hancock and latterly Jeremy Wright.

25.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: Nicky Morgan appointed UK’s new culture secretary 

UK Art World Warns Boris Johnson Over ‘Extreme Damage’ of No-Deal Brexit: An open letter from arts lobbying organization, the Creative Industries Federation, to newly elected prime minister Boris Johnson, has urged him to support the country’s creative sector, and rethink his Brexit commitments. The letter has warned of the destructive consequences of exiting the European Union without a deal, as well as the damage that proposed immigration restrictions would have on the UK art world.

24.07.2019, Frieze: UK Art World Warns Boris Johnson Over ‘Extreme Damage’ of No-Deal Brexit 

Why this Cézanne painting could hold the key to solving thorny heritage disputes: Paul Cézanne’s painting La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1897), which was formerly contested between the Kunstmuseum Bern and the artist’s descendants, quietly went on show in France for the first time in May. It is the result of an innovative agreement to share an art object with competing claims to its ownership. As the art world continues to ponder the delicate and painful questions of restitution, this settlement offers a roadmap for resolving similar legal disputes in the future.

24.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: Why this Cézanne painting could hold the key to solving thorny heritage disputes 

Artists fearful about the future under new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Leading artists have raised concerns about Boris Johnson’s record on the arts and the future standing of the UK following his victory in the Tory leadership contest. 

23.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: Artists fearful about the future under new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson 

23.07.2019, Frieze: What Does Prime Minister Boris Johnson Mean for the UK Art World? 

UK museums lose opportunity to buy rare renaissance casket: UK museums have lost the opportunity to acquire one of the earliest known examples of a German renaissance Kunstkammer—a casket which would have served as a cabinet of curiosities. Brought to the UK 300 years ago, it was recently sold by the 13th Marquess of Lothian, who is better known as Michael Ancram, a former Conservative Party chairman. The Art Newspaper reports that both National Museums Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) declined to buy the ivory-inlaid casket, which is valued at £750,000.23.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: UK museums lose opportunity to buy rare renaissance casket

United States

The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Disputed George Washington Mural: After half a century of intermittent debate and protest, the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously in June to whitewash the 13 murals depicting the life of George Washington that line the halls of a high school named for the first president. The murals’ offense is that they depict some ugly truths about the history of the United States, namely two of its original sins: slavery and the Native American genocide.

26.07.2019, The New York Times: The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Disputed George Washington Murals 

The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Disputed George Washington Mural: After half a century of intermittent debate and protest, the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously in June to whitewash the 13 murals depicting the life of George Washington that line the halls of a high school named for the first president. The murals’ offense is that they depict some ugly truths about the history of the United States, namely two of its original sins: slavery and the Native American genocide.

26.07.2019, The New York Times: The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Disputed George Washington Murals 

A man found a Egon Schiele drawing in a New York thrift store, and it could be worth a fortune: A previously unknown drawing by Egon Schiele turned up in a Habitat for Humanity thrift store in Queens, New York, more than 100 years after the Austrian painter’s death — and it could sell for more than $100,000.

25.07.2019, CNN Style: A man found a Egon Schiele drawing in a New York thrift store, and it could be worth a fortune 

25.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: New York thrift store find turns out to be valuable Schiele drawing

Whitney Museum Vice Chairman Warren Kanders Resigns Over Tear Gas Links: Warren B. Kanders, vice chairman of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, resigned on 25 July, following protests over his connections to the production of tear gas. Eight artists have withdrawn their work from the Whitney Biennial over the last week, calling for him to step down.

25.07.2019, Frieze: Whitney Museum Vice Chairman Warren Kanders Resigns Over Tear Gas Links 

25.07.2019, The New York Times: Warren Kanders Quits Whitney Board After Tear Gas Protests 

26.07.2019, Art News: ‘It’s Just the Beginning’: Art World Responds to Warren B. Kanders’s Resignation from Whitney Board 

25.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: Whitney Museum vice chairman Warren Kanders steps down after months of protests 

26.07.2019, Le Journal des Arts: Sous le feu des critiques, un trustee du Whitney Museum démissionne 

Yet Another Shareholder Has Filed a Lawsuit Against Sotheby’s Over the Company’s Acquisition Deal With Patrick Drahi: Just days after Sotheby’s was hit with two lawsuits in New York another shareholder has filed a claim against the auction house in response to its agreement to be acquired by French-Israeli telecom magnate Patrick Drahi, through his company BidFair, for $3.7 billion.

24.07.2019, Artnet: Yet Another Shareholder Has Filed a Lawsuit Against Sotheby’s Over the Company’s Acquisition Deal With Patrick Drahi

Caregiver will appeal judgment in art museum’s lawsuit over $4.6 million bequest: The Portland Museum of Art claimed that Annemarie Germain wrongfully dissuaded a benefactor from making a multimillion-dollar bequest to the institution.

23.07.2019, The Press Herald: Caregiver will appeal judgment in art museum’s lawsuit over $4.6 million bequest 

22.07.2019, The Press Herald: Portland Museum of Art wins $4.6 million in lawsuit over benefactor’s will 

23.07.2019, Artnet: The Portland Museum of Art Wins Its $4.6 Million Lawsuit Against a Caretaker Accused of Coercing an Elderly Donor Into Changing Her Will 

Inside Hushed Museum Hallways, a Rumble Over Pay Grows Louder: Art workers around the country are sharing their salaries and in some cases forming unions to put pressure on their institutions.22.07.2019, The New York Times: Inside Hushed Museum Hallways, a Rumble Over Pay Grows Louder

World

Auction sales worldwide take a tumble: Auction sales worldwide fell 20.3 per cent to $5.55bn in the first half of 2019, according to the market analysis firm ArtTactic, as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips each posted a decline. The 2018 figures were skewed somewhat by Christie’s sale of David and Peggy Rockefeller’s collection in May 2018, which boosted last year’s totals by $832.6m. This also contributed to a year-on-year fall in sales in the Impressionist and Modern art category, down to $1.5bn in the first half of this year from $2.4bn for the same period in 2018. Postwar and contemporary art marked a small gain overall, from $2.2bn to $2.3bn, and accounted for 40.7 per cent of the market. Individual works from the Impressionist and Modern fields still topped both periods, namely Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)” (1917), which sold for $157.2m in May 2018, and Claude Monet’s “Meules” (1890), which went for $110.7m in May 2019, both at Sotheby’s in New York.

25.07.2019, The Financial Times: Auction sales worldwide take a tumble 

Museums cannot ignore artists’ values: In her book Duty Free Art, the German artist Hito Steyerl discusses art as an alternative currency, pondering what might happen if its “operational infrastructures” were “repossessed”. A list of hypothetical possibilities follows. Here’s one: “Declining the most mortifying sponsor and patron relationships instead of artwashing fossil extraction, weapons manufacturing, and banks bailed out with former cultural funding.”24.07.2019, The Art Newspaper: Museums cannot ignore artists’ values

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