Hughes Hubbard negotiates, litigates and advises clients on the full range of legal issues that arise concerning works of art, the art market and the art world. We represent art market businesses, museums and other non-profit institutions, artists and collectors.
We are able to bring to bear not only the knowledge and experience of several of our partners in the specialized law of art, but in addition the full complement of other skills of a large, international law firm.
We deal with a wide variety of objects, including paintings, installations and sculptures by or purportedly by Basquiat, Chagall, de Kooning, Hopper, Kandinsky, Koons, Lichtenstein, Malevich, Malliol, Matisse, Monet, Motherwell, Picasso, Pollock, Rembrandt and Warhol; medieval Judaica; antique furniture; photographs; Hollywood memorabilia; Art Deco and French Crown jewelry; and Native American ceremonial objects.
Among the art-specific issues we regularly advise on or have recently litigated are:
- antitrust law in the art market
- art dealers’ duties and rights
- artists’ estates and foundations
- auctioneers’ duties and rights
- authentication committees and catalogues raisonnés
- authenticity disputes
- bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and security interests in works of art
- consignment agreements
- copyrights in works of art and reproductions of works of art
- criminal trial and grand jury subpoenas
- cultural patrimony laws, Customs Service regulations concerning the import and export of art, and international cultural treaties
- defamation and product defamation concerning works of art and their provenance
- donor restrictions on use or display of donated works
- droit moral and the Visual Artists Rights Act
- Federal Trade Commission guides concerning jewelry sales and product endorsements
- gifts, acquisitions, dispositions and loans
- international tax treaties affecting cross-border art transactions
- Internet sites concerning art and art sales
- joint ownership of works of art
- loans of artwork to museums and exhibition agreements
- looted and confiscated works of art from the Nazi era
- lost and stolen works of art
- misappropriation of artwork and design
- the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
- new media agreements
- private dealer sales
- private treaties
Among the publicly-disclosed matters we have litigated are these:
- Chowaiki v. Steinhardt, Index No. 600250/04 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Mar. 30, 2005), in which the Firm successfully defended against a claim for tortious interference brought by art dealers alleging that they had been wrongfully excluded from the private sale of a Chagall painting; our client was awarded attorney’s fees because of plaintiffs’ frivolous motion for sanctions.
- Clarke & Shannon v. Nielsen & Bainbridge LLC, 01 Civ. 2336 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), in which the Firm successfully represented two New York artists in a copyright infringement action arising from defendant’s unauthorized commercial use of our clients’ work of abstract expressionist art.
- Close-Barin v. Christie’s, 51 A.D.3d 444, 857 N.Y.S.2d 545 (1st Dept 2008), in which the Firm defeated a conversion claim arising from a title dispute involving French antique furniture.
- Galerie Gmurzynska v. Ingrid Hutton, 257 F. Supp. 2d 621 (S.D.N.Y. 2003), aff’d, 355 F.3d 206 (2d Cir. 2004), in which the Firm won dismissal of a Lanham Act claim brought by a prominent dealer of Russian avant-garde art against a former curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
- Grauer v. Deutsch, 01 Civ. 8672 (S.D.N.Y. 2002), in which the Firm successfully represented the co-creator of a series of original photographs in an action for authorship credit and damages under copyright law, the Lanham Act and the Visual Artists Rights Act.
- Hessel v. Christie’s Inc., 399 F. Supp. 2d 506 (S.D.N.Y. 2005), in which the Firm defeated a defaulting buyer’s effort to block a sale of paintings by Koons and Basquiat.
- Jaszai v. Christie’s, 279 A.D.2d 186, 719 N.Y.S.2d 235 (1st Dep’t 2001), in which the Firm won dismissal of a libel claim brought by a would-be purchaser of a Picasso painting after Christie’s sought to verify his credentials.
- Jones v. Phillips de Pury & Co., Index No. 60210/11 (Civ. Ct. N.Y. Cty. August 9, 2012), in which the Firm obtained summary judgment dismissing claims that Phillips misappropriated the plaintiff’s artwork and designs.
- Killala Fine Art Ltd. v. Julian Weissman, et al. (S.D.N.Y. 2011), in which the Firm successfully obtained reimbursement of the purchase price paid by its client for a forged painting purportedly by Robert Motherwell.
- Krahmer v. Christie’s, 911 A.2d 399 (Del. Ch. 2006), aff’d, 2007 Del. LEXIS 177 (Del. Apr. 25, 2007), in which the Firm defeated a buyer’s fraud claim challenging the authenticity of a painting attributed to Edward Benton Weston.
- Mickle v. Christie’s, 207 F. Supp. 2d 237, reh’g denied, 214 F. Supp. 2d 430 (S.D.N.Y. 2002), in which the Firm obtained summary judgment against a vendor seeking to enforce the sale of a work whose attribution was questioned.
- Prince Adam-Karol Czartoryski-Borbon v. Donald Turcotte, Index No. 107958/97 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. 1997), in which the Firm successfully represented a Polish nobleman in an action to recover a painting stolen from Poland by the Nazis in 1942.
- Ravenna v. Christie’s, 289 A.D.2d 15 (1st Dep’t 2001), in which the Firm succeeded in dismissing a complaint for negligent misrepresentation concerning the attribution of a painting by Ludovico Carracci, sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Real Property Acquisitions v. Christie’s Inc., 2005 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3285 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Mar. 18, 2005), in which the court dismissed claims against our client for fraud in the auction sale of an Arts & Crafts sideboard consigned by Barbra Streisand, upholding the right of the auction house to sell artwork “as is.”
- Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997), in which the Firm filed a brief amicus curiae on behalf of a group of 20 artists, including Jenny Holzer and Cindy Sherman, in the United States Supreme Court successfully challenging the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 under the First Amendment.
- Romania v. Christie’s, 01 Civ. 5616 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), in which the Firm gained dismissal of claims related to a Romanian criminal investigation into the alleged illegal export of a multimillion-dollar statue by Constantin Brancusi.
- Rosenblatt v. Christie Manson & Woods, 195 Fed. App’x 11 (2d Cir. 2006), in which the Firm defeated a claim for a commission on the sale of furnishings formerly owned by an associate of the plaintiff.
- Sands & Co. v. Christie’s, Index No. 600268/04 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty. Feb. 28, 2005), in which the court dismissed an art dealer’s claim against our client for breach of contract for the private treaty sale of a Warhol Mickey Mouse arising from an exchange of e-mails on the ground that the dealer’s reserved right to inspect the painting showed that the dealer had not unconditionally accepted the alleged offer.
- Trombetta v. Christie’s, 99 Civ. 749 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 25, 2003), in which the Firm successfully defended a decision to rescind the sale of a sculpture allegedly by Alberto Giacometti, the authenticity of which has been questioned.
While many of the transactional matters on which we provide advice and counsel are not public, among the publicly-disclosed matters we have worked on are these:
- Represent the Brooklyn Museum, the Miami Art Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Queens Museum of Art and other arts and cultural institutions in transactional matters, including exhibition agreements, loan agreements, licenses, gifts, acquisitions, dispositions, auction contracts, commercial contracts, new media agreements and joint ventures, and provide counsel on a wide variety of contractual, intellectual property, labor and employment, not-for-profit governance and tax-related matters.
- Counsel private collectors and galleries on acquisitions, dispositions and investments related to works by, among others, Bernini, Bronzino, Giuseppe Cesari, Chagall, Jacques-Louis David, Jan van Eyck, Houdon, Monet, Moroni, Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt, Ribera, Rubens and Titian.
- Represent various community-based galleries and performance arts organizations in obtaining tax-exempt status and provide other tax-related advice and general counsel.
- Represent museums in ownership claims concerning Nazi-looted art.
- Counsel auction house clients on various issues relating to contracts, consignments and the conduct of auctions.
- Recent examples of transactional matters include:
- Represented AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in donating the Thomas Hart Benton ten-panel mural, America Today, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Represented the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum in a major new global initiative with the BMW Group titled the BMW Guggenheim Lab, an innovative mobile program that brings together leaders in architecture, art, science, design, technology and education.
- Represented Brooklyn Museum in transferring the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection and related intellectual property rights to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Represented the Stichting Van Baaren Museum in its acquisition of a 16th century Dutch triptych recovered in 1945 after having been looted by the Nazi authorities.
- Provided counsel to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in drafting intellectual property agreements and licenses, setting policies related to intellectual property and executing a social media marketing campaign.
- Negotiated an option agreement with an artist relating to an installation of work on behalf of the Miami Art Museum.
- Negotiated co-venture agreement between a non-profit community-based arts organization and a for-profit entity.
Related Practice Areas
In addition to our partners who deal with art-specific areas of the law, we draw on the Firm’s skills in a variety of other areas for our art clients, including these:
- antitrust and trade regulation
- banking and secured transactions
- intellectual property and technology
- labor and employment
- non-profit organizations
- trusts and estates
For more information on Hughes Hubbard’s Art Law practice or on the Firm’s overall capabilities, please contact Michael Salzman at (212) 837-6833 or firstname.lastname@example.org Daniel Weiner at (212) 837-6874 or email@example.com.