Thursday, March 15, 2018

"The notion that museums could simply liquidate the bottom 1% of their collections for a cash windfall that would solve most fiduciary challenges is simply a canard."

That's from this piece by Martin Gammon in The Art Newspaper, and I suspect it will quickly be adopted as a talking point by the Deaccession Police.  Not only is deaccessioning repulsive and unethical and Stalin-esque, it also doesn't work!!

But is that really the right way to frame the issue?  Isn't the real question whether this particular museum can liquidate (just liquidate, as opposed to "simply" liquidate) some portion of its collection (maybe it's the bottom 1%, maybe it's 22-24% from the bottom) for some funding (as opposed to a far more repulsive-sounding "cash windfall") that would help solve the particular challenge that this particular museum finds itself currently facing (as opposed to solving "most fiduciary challenges")?

This is interesting

According to The Fashion Law blog, a street artist complained to retailer H&M about their use of his work in an ad campaign ... H&M responded by filing a lawsuit seeking a declaration that unauthorized graffiti is not protected by copyright ... but then immediately realized they had made a big mistake and issued the following statement:

"H&M respects the creativity and uniqueness of artists, no matter the medium. We should have acted differently in our approach to this matter. It was never our intention to set a precedent concerning public art or to influence the debate on the legality of street art.  As a result, we are withdrawing the complaint filed in court. We are currently reaching out directly to the artist in question to come up with a solution. We thank everyone for their comments and concerns, as always, all voices matter to us."

"According to the Association of Art Museum Directors, nationwide 59 percent of museums charge admission, 34 percent are free and 7 percent suggest a donation amount"

That's from this NYT story.

As far as I can tell, only one museum from that 59 percent is the object of protests over the policy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

More on the Shagalov case

Mentioned earlier here.  Georgina Adam and Anny Shaw have lots more detail in the Art Newspaper, including this from New York Judge Charles Ramos during a January court hearing:

"“I have never seen an industry more ripe with fraud and misconduct than the art business. To say there’s such a thing as artistic ethics is an oxymoron. Most of the cases I’ve had involving art dealers involve fraud outright. Just plain old fraud. This is not a nice business."

"France’s highest appeals court has now ordered a retrial on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the goods held by the suspects had been stolen."

The saga of Picasso's electrician goes on.  Background here.

"We want to keep admission fees low, keep the state role to a minimum, and, in terms of donors, insist on clean hands. But if we want to do *all* that, something has to give."

Michael Rushton on the question of "tainted money."

"But it’s the Copyright Act not the court that’s blocking the road, and [artists] have an easy way around. All they’re required to do is share their profits with the creators of the content they seek to exploit."

Stephen Carter on the Second Circuit's TVEyes decision, but maybe also on the visual art appropriation wars?

5Pointz Lessonz

Eileen Kinsella rounds them up.

Monday, February 12, 2018

$6.7 million in damages in the 5Pointz case (UPDATED)

Story here.  I've got to say I did not see that one coming.

From the opinion (reproduced here):  "If not for Wolkoff's insolence, these damages would not have been assessed. ... Given the degree of difficulty in proving actual damages, a modest amount of statutory damages would probably have been more in order."

UPDATE:  Brian Frye:  "Thankfully, this is why we have appellate courts. VARA is a stupid law, but not even VARA is this stupid."

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento:  "[I]t wouldn’t surprise me if this case grabs Congress’s or the Trump Administration’s attention. Otherwise, my bet is that this case is appealed."

Friday, February 09, 2018

BREAKING: "Berkshire Museum Victory" (UPDATED 3X)

Andrew Russeth:  "Berkshire Museum Victory: Massachusetts Attorney General Agrees to Art Sales, With Rockwell Going to Public Institution, Some Conditions."

More later.

UPDATE:  Immediate reaction from Deaccession Police Headquarters:  "Floodgates opened."  "Once again, an attorney general has been a lapdog, not a watchdog."  "An ethical travesty."

On the other side, Brian Frye tweets: "MA AG finally knuckles under & tacitly admits it has no legal authority to stop the Berkshire Museum from selling art."

UPDATE 2:  Yale's Will Goetzmann, assuming that the buying public institution is Crystal Bridges, says: "A move from MA to AK makes both better off. Why not?"

Yeah, why not?  Remember there are two ways to look at these situations. One is to weigh the actual costs and actual benefits and try to determine whether, on balance, all things considered, the sale is a good idea. The other is to take it as a given that the guidelines of certain professional organizations carry serious moral weight, such that their violation is an "ethical travesty."  (And "pity" if you don't see it that way.)

Another example of the latter approach is San Francisco Chronicle art critic Charles Desmarais, who says the settlement "looks like complete capitulation to" the museum, and then adds: "I am sorry for your loss, Pittsfield."  But why aren't we also happy for your gain, Bentonville, Arkansas, or Los Angeles, or wherever the Rockwell ends up?  Why don't they cancel each other out?  Why do only the losses count?

UPDATE 3:  "Debacle."