Thursday, June 4, 2020

Christie’s Slammed With a $16.7 Million Fine for Failing to Collect New York Sales Tax

To make matters worse, according to internal documents, when Christie’s tax officials realized their mistake, they sought to cover their tracks: the auction house’s tax manager misrepresented Christie’s private sales as sales from Christie’s New York in an effort to avoid arousing suspicion about its past error and getting audited.

More here.


Jerry Saltz on the last days of the art world

I agree with Saltz on one main difference between previous artist generations and this one. Saltz: “But while my memories of the 1970s make me sure artists will survive, even thrive, under any circumstances, there is one big thing about the world in which they operate that does worry me. Over the last decade or so, the art world in peril has seemed to lose the ability to adapt. Or, rather, it now seems able to adapt only in one way, no matter the circumstances: by growing larger and busier. Expansion and more were the answers to everything.”

Saltz quotes Peter Saul, “there are just too many artists.” Yes, and there are also too many galleries, too many art schools, too many art teachers, too many residencies, too many curators, too many art lawyers, too many critics, too many advisors, too many art fairs, too many of everything. With the added element that we continue to promote and perpetuate the idea that art is Hollywood, full of glamour, riches and spectacle, why would we think it would change for the better if that’s exactly what we want from it? And, let’s face it, in this country, more is always better, right? So why would we think things in the art industry would only get better?

But there is hope, it’s just not where we think it is.


On the Blurring of Art & Law: A Manifesto

The following are epitaphs and birth certificates to thoughts on the practices and philosophies known as art and the law. As with any thought and position of any worth, the following thoughts may disappear, they may be revised or amended, or they may remain. This list is also not conclusive, which is to say, it may grow.


Tattoo artists beware, you may have just granted a non-exclusive license

The tattoo-copyright-ownership debate still rages on (or maybe not quite a rage but a debate no-less). Big decision last week from the Southern District of New York on whether or not a video game company can appropriate tattoos on athletes for use in video games. In brief, the answer is, yes.

“Here, the undisputed factual record clearly supports the reasonable inference that the tattooists necessarily granted the Players nonexclusive licenses to use the Tattoos as part of their likenesses, and did so prior to any grant of rights in the Tattoos to Plaintiff.”

And because video game companies license their rights from sports leagues, like the National Basketball Association, who gets rights to sublicense players’ rights, the video game companies are in the clear.

Perhaps more interesting is how the Court also stated that the use of a couple of tattoos, smaller in size, in shifting formats during the video game, was also de minimis and thus together constituted fair use.

More here. Opinion here.


How much for the museum artwork?

Steven Miller on how museums are pretty much just like art galleries.

There are, essentially, no draconian outcomes for an American museum that declines to abide by museum profession deaccession recommendations. If an institution has been accredited by the American Association of Museums, the worst thing that can happen is that accreditation can be rescinded. Since offending museums will readily get back in the AAM’s good graces, this circumstance is temporary. So, how does one ask a museum to sell them a collection object?

More here.


Facing bankruptcy, should the SF Art Institute sell its $50M Diego Rivera?

Curious what my good friend Donn Zaretsky would say. I’m still not sure. My hesitation stems not from the “ethics” of deaccessioning, but rather from my skepticism on the relevance of higher “art education” as we know it. In other words, and presuming the Rivera was in fact sold and raised the $50M estimate, would those $50M be but a band-aid on a bullet hole? Would the SFAI just burn through those $50M and be back facing bankruptcy in a matter of years?

Story here.

Side note: Last October during the Art & Law Program fall term I posed a number of hypotheticals to the fellows. Interestingly, one of the hypos was almost exact to the real-life situation faced now by the San Francisco Art Institute. The only difference was that in my hypo, the art institution had in its collection an artwork by an artist who had close cultural and ethnic connections to the community. Lo and behold, one of the Program fellows, Carlos Jiménez Cahua, sent me an email last night directing me to this Program hypo come to life. Thank you, Carlos!


Singing copyrighted songs during home quarantine…infringement?

This interesting article on how singing copyright-protected songs from the roof could infringe copyrights (in Spanish, but hopefully you can read).


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