End to legal proceedings against Ibrahim Mahama

Dealers Stefan Simchowitz and Jonathan Ellis King Settle to drop lawsuit against Ibrahim Mahama. The legal saga is expected to soon come to an end as the artist and two dealers have agreed to settle the case outside of court. A Californian court had already thrown first case on 4 May out of court, placing an end to the legal battle commencing in June 2015. The dealers accuse the artist of declaring that hundreds of his works in jute bags are not genuine after the dealers decided to separate a work made up of numerous bags to make 300 new works destined for sale. By refusing to recognise these works, the dealers are said to lose a sum estimated at $4.5 million. The artist accuses the two dealers of breaking down the work without his permission, thus violating the Visual Artists Rights Acts of 1990 which protects artists against any modification of a work by a third...

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Next episode in the Knoedler case

Twist follows twist in the Knoedler case that has shaken up the art world following the sale of fake works. Ann Freedman, former director of the gallery, and Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, a couple of collectors who purchased a forged Rothko for $8.4 million in 2004, have settled their dispute out of court. The wronged couple has now testified in favour of the gallery and its director, saying that in their opinion, Ms Freedman could not have known about the work’s fake status. This declaration is tempered by the report provided by expert James Martin, stating that not only details visible to the naked eye in two Motherwell works should have aroused suspicion that the paintings were not authentic, but also that the Knoedler gallery apparently requested that he review his conclusions in his expertise report. Meanwhile, the gallery’s accountant, Roger Siefert, states that the sale of these fake paintings was crucial to the gallery’s economic survival and that Ann Freedman would have earned over $10 million through the sales. This statement has been countered by Ms Freedman’s attorney who says that since the start of the case, her client has not wished to keep one cent of the profits reaped by the sale of the paintings. According to curator Dana Granmer, the painting purchased by the De Sole couple may well prove to be genuine. The question that remains to be cleared up is whether Ann Freedman was aware of the forgery or whether she was another victim in the trickery organised by Glafira Rosales who has pleaded...

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Claim on Matisse Portrait rejected by National Gallery

The National Gallery in London has rejected a claim for the Portrait of Greta Moll (1908) by Matisse that survived the bombing of Germany during the Second World War. The descendants of the artist’s model argue that the work was misappropriated after being entrusted to a family friend who took it from Berlin to Switzerland in 1947. The National Gallery bought the potrait in 1979, and a spokeswoman for the gallery comments, “We have good title to the picture.” The work has been on long-term loan to the Tate since 1997. It was on display at Tate Modern until September 2015 (as a work from 1908, it is now considered more appropriate for it to be with the Tate’s 20th-century collection) and is now temporarily in storage. The New York-based lawyer David Rowland is acting for Moll’s heirs and has submitted a formal demand that the work be returned. If it is not, “the Moll family will file suit against the National Gallery and the United Kingdom for its return in an appropriate court”, Rowland says, adding that the UK’s Spoliation Advisory Panel should consider the claim. However, the panel’s mandate covers only the Nazi era (1933-45), so a work lost in 1947 would fall outside its jurisdiction. Moll’s descendants will now have to decide whether to pursue civil legal action. They would face two problems: producing sufficient factual evidence about the 1947 loss and to explain their failure to take action when they learned of the 1979 acquisition of the...

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Street Artist Shepard Fairey charged with felony in Detroit

Street artist Shepard Fairey faces felony charges for two counts of malicious destruction of property and appeared briefly in court in Detroit, USA on Friday 9 October 2015. Fairey allegedly created nine illegal wall pastings earlier this year while he was in Detroit to create a large-scale mural, leaving his trademark OBEY GIANT tag in his wake. During his visit, he spoke honestly to the Detroit Free Press of his intention to continue to create work without permission. This admission led to felony charges being filed against the artist and a warrant being issued for his arrest. The judge at Fairey’s trial on Friday, Kenneth King, did not seem impressed by the artist’s defiant spirit, stating, “You can’t put things on property without their permission…It’s not cute and it’s illegal.” Fairey was arrested in LA and then turned himself in to Detroit authorities, and his lawyer Bradley Friedman, insists that his client’s actions held no malicious intent; “He’s beautifying with his artwork.” Although Fairey has been arrested 18 times previously for illegal tagging, this is the first time that he has faced felony charges. If convicted, he could face up to five years imprisonment and more than $10,000 fine. It has reportedly cost the city nearly $30,000 to clean up his unwanted...

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Nudes deemed too “prurient” for public eyes

The Basquiat Estate has requested the removal of some of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “dick pics” taken by the artist’s ex-girlfriend Paige Powell in their Upper West-side apartment in the 1980s from the website Ratter (formerly Animal New York). On Monday 28 September 2015, Basquiat Estate attorney James P. Clinque emailed the online publication of Animal New York requesting that the graphic images published in 2014 of the artist lying naked on a mattress be removed from the internet, complaining that “they disparage Mr. Basquiat and are prurient in nature.” However, rather than comply, the website instead published a screenshot of the email. The website initially got access to the photos from an exhibition which took place at Suzanne Geiss Company, New York in 2014 entitled “Jean-Michel Basquiat, Reclining Nude”. Powell commented that Basquiat “would love these photos”, but it is perhaps the title “dick pics” given by the online publication that caused offence to the artist’s estate. However, Bucky Turco, former owner of Animal New York, has objected that “The request to remove the photos is absurd. He has no legal standing.” “Also,” he added, “anyone who uses the word ‘prurient,’ should never be taken...

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