Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tino Sehgal: Complicating Art Law Issues

About a year ago I mentioned Tino Sehgal’s work and how it highlights and problematizes law. Last week’s NY Times Magazine contains a review of his work and mentions a bit more on the legal gymnastics.

Since there can be no written contract, the sale of a Sehgal piece must be conducted orally, with a lawyer or a notary public on hand to witness it. The work is described; the right to install it for an unspecified number of times under the supervision of Sehgal or one of his representatives is stipulated; and the price is stated. The buyer agrees to certain restrictions, perhaps the most important being the ban on future documentation, which extends to any subsequent transfers of ownership. “If the work gets resold, it has to be done in the same way it was acquired originally,” says Jan Mot, who is Sehgal’s dealer in Brussels. “If it is not done according to the conditions of the first sale, one could debate whether it was an authentic sale. It’s like making a false Tino Sehgal, if you start making documentation and a certificate.”


Help Haiti Children, Receive a Limited Edition Clancco Poster

"Good Law is the Best Art"

"Good Law is the Best Art"

Clancco has printed 50 limited-edition posters, Good Law is the Best Art, based on Andy Warhol’s now-famous quote, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

These limited-edition posters are for sale, with all profits after shipping costs going to UNICEF. UNICEF Promises that 100% of donated money will go to saving children’s lives in Haiti. Although the earthquake happened on January 12th, there is still much need for donations of all kinds to help Haiti rebuild. The AP reports:

The world still can’t get enough food and water to the hungry and thirsty one week after an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital. The airport remains a bottleneck, the port is a shambles. The Haitian government is invisible, nobody has taken firm charge, and the police have largely given up.

We’re putting up the artwork; you help children in Haiti get food, water, medicine and clothing while getting a limited-edition Clancco poster.

Each poster is $20.00 (USD), and measure 19″ x 25″ on 110lb white paper. Clancco is also donating the cost of mailing tubes. If you’d like to buy a poster, please send a check to:

Sergio Munoz Sarmiento
1 East 53rd Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10022

Please include the following information:

1. Name / City / Country
2. Mailing address
3. Number of posters requested
4. If you would like your name included in our donation letter to UNICEF. With consent, all donor names will also be listed on Those not wishing to have their names listed will be listed as “Anonymous.” These posters make great gifts, so you may also buy a poster in behalf of someone else. If so, please indicate name of recipient and mailing address.

If you’d like me to reserve one for you, e-mail me at

Please feel free to forward to friends and colleagues, post on Twitter and Facebook.


On Copyright: The Collision of Ideas

Interesting event coming up on March 10, 2010 on the debates concerning copyright and its effects on art, society, technology, and law. Panelists include William Patry and Virginia Rutledge.

From the website:

OnCopyright 2010: The Collision of Ideas

The debate over copyright—its value, its limits, its virtues and its future—is raging as never before. Technology innovation is creating new models for content distribution and disrupting the economics of entire industries. Ad-based media companies are wondering what the future holds and are questioning whether high-quality content is still a viable commodity. Artists are exploring new forms of creativity and pushing the edges of rights and ownership ever outward. And there are new calls from all quarters for changes in the laws governing fair use, search, aggregation and more.

Further information and registration here.


Warhol Foundation Accused of Fraudulently Creating Scarcity


More problems for the Warhol estate.

Susan Shaer claims that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board routinely defaces authentic Warhol artworks with a “DENIED” stamp, thereby creating “artificial scarcity” and inflating the value of the art owned by the foundation. According to her complain in Federal Court, Shaer claims that the Andy Warhol’s estate is behind an “insidious” conspiracy to monopolize the authentication and sale of the late artist’s work.

Shaer seeks treble damages and an injunction against Fremont and the Warhol foundation, estate and authentication board, alleging antitrust violations, collusion and fraud. Via Courthouse News Service.  For the other related authentication case involving the Warhol estate, click here.


Leibovitz Settles Copyright Suit

Annie Leibovitz has settled a copyright lawsuit with an Italian photographer Paolo Pizzetti, who accused her of stealing his pictures for a coffee campaign. Although the suit was for $300,000, Pizzetti now praises Leibovitz, calling her “one of the great photographers of our times.” Seems a bit odd.


Brooklyn Museum Navigates Complicated Copyright Issues

Deborah Wythe and Arlene Yu of the Brooklyn Museum write of the painstaking process of making their art collection available online. They speak of the dual challenges the Museum faces as they try to make their art available to a wider audience while simultaneously respecting the intellectual property rights of artists and copyright holders. It’s a highly-commendable approach, endorsing institutional accountability and transparency.

What’s our answer? It’s not perfect. We’ve opted to take what we consider to be a conservative approach: even though some would argue that our posting of images of works online is an example of fair use, we’re seeking explicit permission from artists, in the form of nonexclusive licenses, in order to post anything bigger than a thumbnail.

So we’ve decided to consider anything created after 1922 to be under copyright, even though many works may not actually still be protected. We’ve also decided to approach artists and ask for blanket permission for works created after 1922—again, even though many works may not actually still be protected. Deb is going to blog a bit more about this coming up next.

With these guidelines, we were able to whittle down the number of works needing clearance to about 19,000, and the number of artists/heirs to about 4,300. Since January 2008, six part-time interns have worked on getting clearance, and each intern was allowed to define the artist pool she tried to reach. The intern before me, for example, focused on artists from the early 20th century with more than 50 works in our collection, while I researched artists who were included in our 2007 acquisitions. We’ve cleared about 2,500 works to date.

You can read their comments on the Brooklyn Museum Blog.


Deitch’s MoCA Contract: “follow … the AAM and the AAMD ethics provisions”

According to The LA Times’ Mike Boehm, Jeffrey Deitch’s employment contract will prohibit him from any self-interested transactions as well as prohibiting him from improperly benefiting his friends or former business associates. Deitch will have to abide by the ethical and professional guidelines of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors. Without reading Deitch’s employment contract, all of this is pretty much conjecture and wild guesses. Although a breach of employment contract could be reason to either discipline or dismiss an employee, it does not necessarily follow that the employer must enforce the provision.

Keep in mind also that the other key factor in this relationship is the fact that Deitch is now an employee of a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, which means that he will now have to abide by certain state and federal laws and regulations that would not apply to a for-profit corporation.

Read Boehm’s LA Times article.


Clancco, Clancco: The Source for Art & Law,, and Art & Law are trademarks owned by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. The views expressed on this site are those of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento and of the artists and writers who submit to They are not the views of any other organization, legal or otherwise. All content contained on or made available through is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed, nor is anything submitted to treated as confidential.

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