Art Law Blog

News & Updates on Legal Issues Facing the Art World

When Christie’s Auction House first entered the secondary art market of mainland China in 2005, it licensed its brand to a local auction house and received a total of RMB 97,000,000 (roughly $12,100,000) for its inaugural sale.[1] With eight years of experience in this nascent market, Christie’s started its independent business by establishing a branch in Shanghai and obtaining an auction license shortly afterward. Early March this year, Christie’s realized a total of RMB 222,030,200 (roughly $35,000,000) in its inaugural sale, selling 95% by lot and 90% by value, at its new gallery, BUND ONE, a century-old historical building
Continue Reading Unroll the Scroll Painting: Inside the Chinese Art Market and Its Regulatory Landscape

Many things are being tokenized, but the growth of NFTs for digital art is booming. This, in part, is due to the recent headline news that Beeple’s iconic digital art work was sold at auction by Christie’s for $69 million. Other digital art is being created to leverage pre-exiting IP and physical art. This boom is creating great opportunities for IP owners who want to license their IP for use in NFTs. However, for those just entering the space, there are many things to consider given some of the unique aspects NFTs and digital art.
Continue Reading Protecting IP and Limiting Liability When Licensing IP for Digital Art and NFTs

Everything is being tokenized these days, including art, games, collectibles and much more. The record prices being fetched have created an NFT frenzy. This distribution model has created a new channel for monetization of creative IP. Given some of the unique aspects of NFTs, IP owners need to rethink their IP protection and licensing strategies. IP protection strategies should include specific protection relating to NFTs. Due to some of the unique aspects of NFTs, various new considerations need to be addressed when licensing IP. NFT creators need to be mindful of potential infringement issues when using third party IP and
Continue Reading NFTs and Intellectual Property: What IP Owners and NFT Creators Need to Know

The tokenization of physical and digital art has many advantages. Some of the advantages create potential complexities under US law. Each situation is fact specific, but the following is a summary of some of the areas for which careful consideration is needed with tokenized art. This is not a complete list, but provides some of the most common issues that we typically see. These issues can impact the owners/creators of tokenized art as well as the exchanges and platforms that sell them.
Continue Reading Tokenized Art Legal Issues

As with other rapidly-evolving technologies, the blockchain space is experiencing a frenzy of patent activity. The data shows that there are 3-4 times as many published applications as there are issued patents for these concepts. This trend strongly suggests that the number of blockchain-related patents will surge in the next couple of years. However, due to recent changes in patent law, it is more important than ever to ensure that you analyze the patentability of blockchain inventions in light of these changes to target inventions likely to result in patents.  Once likely patentable inventions are identified, it is critical to
Continue Reading How to Successfully Obtain Blockchain Patents

In 1999, the estate and family of founding partner, Gordon F. Hampton, gifted his extraordinary collection of contemporary art to the University Art Museum — now known as the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum — at California State University, Long Beach.  In keeping with Gordon Hampton’s promotion of the arts and support of the Museum, Sheppard Mullin is pleased to introduce you to a virtual three-part artist lecture series emphasizing material innovation.  The Museum offers this series as a fundraiser for collection acquisitions.  Please see the attached brochure for more information.
Continue Reading Fundraiser for Collection Acquisition Material Concerns Three-Part Artist Lecture Series

Christie’s made history again last night during its evening sale, An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, at 20 Rockefeller Center in New York. This time, the history was not in the form of a record-setting sale (though the sale brought in $317.8 million), but as the first major art auction to be recorded by distributed ledger technology. Christie’s teamed with Artory, a company that operates an art-focused, blockchain-based registry, to securely register and track the provenance of over 90 artworks that were offered in the sale.
Continue Reading The Hammer Falls on the First Major Blockchain-based Art Auction

For centuries, artists have been celebrated for pushing boundaries and shaping how society should view art. As members of the audience, we rely on artists to expose us to these unique dimensions of thought and we return the favor by placing value on their creations. For the past twenty years, one anonymous artist has continuously thrilled his audience by publicly displaying his work throughout the streets of major cities. Banksy, as the public knows him, has once again shocked his audience, this time at the Sotheby’s auction of one of his most famous graffiti pieces, “Girl with Balloon.”
Continue Reading “Bank For Your Buck” – The Legal Implications of Banksy’s Destruction of “Girl with Balloon”

Introduction

Art export laws are designed to prevent art and artifacts of significant cultural value from leaving its country of origin while also preserving the home country’s competitiveness in the international art market. Many countries have struggled with striking the right balance: Germany’s recent amendment to its cultural heritage protection law in June 2016 was fiercely opposed by the country’s private collectors and art dealers who are now required to obtain an export license for works older than 50 years that are valued over £150,000. Italy sought to achieve balance between government and individual interests by increasing the threshold for
Continue Reading Masterpiece by Bernardo Bellotto Purchased by London National Gallery Consequent to Temporary Export Bar

Effective January 1, 2017, art dealers operating in California will have a new certificate of authenticity requirement.  AB 1570, recently signed into law by Governor Brown, requires a certificate of authenticity for all autographed items sold for over $5.  The new law is an expansion of CA Civil Code §1739.7, which had regulated autographed sports memorabilia.  AB 1570 removes the “sports” limitation, potentially bringing all non-sports autographs, including art, within its purview.
Continue Reading Not What I Signed Up For: CA’s New Autograph Law

Confidentiality provisions are not a new or novel inclusion in agreements for the sale of assets, let alone the sale of artwork. However, the extremely drawn out case of Hoffman v. L&M Arts, et al, presents a rather odd view on the scope and nature of confidentiality provisions within the art law context. Specifically, it provides buyers and sellers of artwork with important advice for the inclusion and construction of confidentiality provisions in future sales. The case also presents the interesting issue of whether a confidentiality provision requiring that the transaction for the sale of artwork remain confidential can preclude
Continue Reading Just Between Us: Buyer of Rothko Painting Sued for Breach of Confidentiality

Blue Art Limited, a UK company (“Blue Art”), is suing art dealer David Zwirner and his gallery, a contemporary art gallery in New York and London, for breach of contract and fraudulent concealment and inducement, regarding an unnamed piece by an undisclosed artist.  Blue Art is owned by Old Master art dealer Fabrizio Moretti who has galleries in Florence, London and New York.  The complaint was filed on July 20, 2016 in New York state court (Docket No. 653810/2016).
Continue Reading Delivery Dilemma

Yesterday, August 23, 2016, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman reached a verdict in the authentication case against Peter Doig. He stated that Doig “could not have been the author of the work”, but rather in all likelihood Pete Doige created the piece of artwork. In reaching his verdict, Judge Feinerman mentioned that Doig was in high school in Toronto at the time when he was alleged to have been in prison, as evidenced by yearbook photos.
Continue Reading Update: I Swear It’s Not Mine – Artist Sued for Denying He Created Art Piece