Abandonment Issues

Proof of intent is key in establishing the owner of left-behind art.

Although we’d like to think that our clients would be totally lost without us, we have found that many can actually teach us a thing or two. A case in point is Ernest, who inadvertently gave us a crash course in the law of abandoned art. Continue reading “Abandonment Issues”

A Genuine Dispute

Authentication is valuable and not always easily granted.

Bunny G. (not her real initial) appeared in our office hopping mad. She had been the personal assistant (not her real function) to a famous sculptor, Max (no real reason for a parenthetical). Bunny now wanted to sell a signed sculpture her employer had given her shortly before his death. Continue reading “A Genuine Dispute”

In Favor of Artists

Some thought our client Vinnie was nuts, but we preferred to think of him as merely impressionable, or perhaps just absinthe-minded. The Parisian painter e-mailed us in a panic with a pressing problem: He had consigned pictures to several American galleries and was terrified that if they suddenly went bust (as famously happened to dealer Salander O’Reilly), Continue reading “In Favor of Artists”

Of Particular Import

New U.S. Customs regulations on Chinese antiquities require case-by-case consideration.

Our father used to say that people usually worry about the wrong things in life — so, to be safe, we advise our clients to worry about everything.

This turns out to be especially good advice for collectors of Chinese antiquities, who are now faced with controversial new U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations ostensibly intended to curtail the looting of Chinese cultural patrimony. Our concern here: In trying to curb the illicit trade in Chinese artifacts — clearly a laudable goal — the U.S. government has inadvertently created a minefield for legitimate collectors, dealers and scholars. Continue reading “Of Particular Import”

Restoration Drama

Beware of botched repair jobs that can’t be undone and wind up devaluing works of art.

In the art world, those who forget the past are destined to repeat it — often for the benefit of a bored court stenographer. This is especially true in the area of art restoration, where mistakes by prior owners can haunt those down the line. Continue reading “Restoration Drama”

When Ishmael Called

While pursuing that catch at auction, don’t forget to read the catalogue’s fine print.

Ishmael perfectly epitomized the old art market: He was blind and rich, and he collected works with the abandon of a drunken sailor. Unfortunately, he didn’t fully understand the dynamics of the auction process, which in today’s floundering economy turned out to be a whale of a mistake. Continue reading “When Ishmael Called”