Coming Soon: A Dedicated Art Law Court

Are judges and juries best placed to decide the outcome of an art law dispute? Art market professionals do not seem to think so. Fortunately for them, from 7 June 2018, they will no longer have to worry about entrusting difficult questions regarding the authenticity of an artwork to a court of law.  A new Court of Arbitration for Art (CAA) is being launched to resolve art law disputes around the globe.

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Tax bill surprise coming down the line for “non-dom” art collectors

Billionaire art collector Roman Abramovich was probably hoping the proposed changes to taxation law affecting UK “non-doms” were an April Fool’s joke. Yet the rules, which are expected to hit prominent UK art collectors who reside abroad for tax purposes, are all too real. Originally due to come into effect on 6 April this year, the reforms have now been delayed because of the upcoming election, but remain in the pipeline.

Under the proposed laws, “non-doms” who have been resident in the UK for at least 15 of the past 20 years but have a permanent home abroad would be considered UK domiciled for tax purposes. The changes would mean that non-doms such as Abramovich could be liable to pay tax on any art they sell even if it is held outside the UK. Continue reading

Bagels and graffiti: McDonald’s in another street art row

A New York City graffiti artist collective is threatening to sue McDonald’s for unauthorised use of their work in a Dutch advertising campaign.

Images of street art by the Bushwick Collective appeared in a video entitled “McDonald’s Presents the Vibe of Bushwick NY” promoting the fast food mega-chain’s latest addition to its menu, the ‘New York Bagel Supreme’. The four-minute video features six graffiti artists from the Collective hired by McDonald’s to paint its new bagel burger in various locations around the Netherlands.  Continue reading

Law Commission calls for reform to art finance law

On Monday 19 September 2016, Boodle Hatfield LLP was delighted to host a seminar presenting the Law Commission’s recommendations on reforming the law of loans secured on personal goods.

The Law Commission highlighted the Bills of Sale Act 1878 and the Bills of Sale Amendment Act 1882 as being archaic Victorian statutes which are wholly unsuited for modern credit arrangements. The calls for reform have stemmed from the logbook loan sector which uses Bills of Sales to secure loans and where sharp practices have been deemed disproportionate and unfair on borrowers. The proposed reforms will not only regulate the logbook loan market but will also have knock on effects on the more exclusive art and luxury asset lending sector. Continue reading

Victory for artists as Peter Doig authentication trial comes to an end

In what has been deemed a victory for artists’ and their “unfettered right” to authenticate their own work, the Federal District Court for Northern Illinois yesterday (23 August) ruled in favour of Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig.

As we reported on 11 August, Doig was being sued for US$5 million (£3.8 million) by the owner of a painting for failing to authenticate it as his own work. Former corrections officer Robert Fletcher claimed Doig created the work as a teenager while incarcerated at the Thunder Bay Correction Center in Canada and sold it to him for US$100 (£76.70). When Fletcher attempted to sell the disputed painting with Chicago art dealer Peter Bartlow, Doig denied authorship of the painting and consequently the US$10 million (£7.6 million) price tag it would have carried at auction. Doig insisted that the work’s true creator was another artist, Peter Edward Doige, and in a statement, he criticised Fletcher and Bartlow for having “shamelessly tried to deny another artist his legacy for money”. Continue reading

Retired museum directors attempt to strike down new art protection law

A group of retired museum directors has penned an open letter calling for a proposed art protection law to be struck down ahead of its ratification by the upper house of the German parliament on Friday (8 July).

The controversial new law restricts the sale of artworks and artefacts considered to be of significant cultural value to buyers both inside and outside the European Union to prevent them from leaving Germany. Spearheaded by German culture minister, Monika Grütters, it has attracted criticism from artists, art dealers and institutions concerned with its impact on the art market and on loan agreements between collectors and museums.      Continue reading

Art law experts frustrated over response to latest restitution claim

“Disingenuous” and “depressing” is how art law experts are describing the response of Bavarian authorities to the latest art restitution claim by the heirs of a Jewish family who fled Nazi persecution during World War II.

The experts, which include art lawyers Christopher Marinello of the Art Recovery Group in London and Nicholas O’Donnell, shared their frustrations over the official response to the claim with artnet News. Continue reading

Controversial new art protection law passed in Germany

Following a backdown by the German government last year, a hugely controversial art protection law was successfully passed by the Bundestag on the 23rd June.

Designed to prevent art and artefacts of significant cultural value from leaving Germany, the legislation stipulates that prior approval must be secured before artworks older than 50 years and valued at more than £120,000 (€150,000) can be sold outside the European Union. An export permit is required for the sale of artworks older than 75 years and valued at over £242,000 (€300,000) within the EU. Until now, export permits have only been required for sales outside the EU. According to German culture minister, Monika Grütters, who has consistently campaigned for the new law it will bring the country’s cultural heritage protection standards more closely in line with that of UNESCO and Europe. Continue reading

Why Google is in trouble with Getty Images

The US-based photo agency Getty Images has filed a competition lawsuit with the European Commission against Google.

Getty Images accusation focuses on changes made in 2013 to Google Images. Instead of thumbnails, the search engine now displays high-resolution images that have been “scraped” from third party websites.

A statement released by Getty Images states: “Because image consumption is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site. These changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend. This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates.”

The complaint follows the image agency’s submission in June 2015, when it acted as an interested third party in support of the European Commission’s investigation into Google’s anti-competitive business practice.

“Google’s behavior is adversely affecting not only our contributors, but the lives and livelihoods of artists around the world,” says Getty Images’ General Counsel, Yoko Miyashita.

It adds to the mounting charges against Google from the EU, the most recent of which concerned the dominant position of its Android operating system.

Google has so far declined to comment on this latest lawsuit.

Jewel once owned by Joan of Arc at centre of stormy dispute

UK authorities may demand the return of a ring which once belonged to Joan of Arc after it was sold to a French theme park in February.

On Wednesday (16 March), The Art Newspaper raised the question of whether the ring had been legally exported to France following its sale. If it is discovered that an export licence was not obtained it is thought that British authorities are likely to request the return of the ring. Continue reading