Thursday, May 30, 2013

Art Law - DePaul Article: It's OK for US Museums To Sue Jews Over Artworks Stolen During the Holocaust

I was provided with an article from Volume XXIII of the DePaul Journal of Art, Technology and Intellectual Property Law (2013) at page 279.   The article is written by Simon Frankel, a partner of Covington & Burling who was counsel to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and his associate Ethan Forrest.  The article argues that it is ok for museums to sue Jews make sure that their rights to reclaim stolen artworks in museum collections are cut off.

I provide a contrary viewpoint in my recently-published article Nazi Looted Art and Cocaine: When Museum Directors Take It, Call The Cops.

I think that any museum directors who are suing Jews and asserting statutes of limitations and laches to avoid scrutiny of stolen artworks in their collections ought to be put in jail, particularly since taxpayers finance the cost of each acquisition of stolen art.  When Leonard Lauder announces a murky "billion dollar gift" what he means is that he won't pay a billion in taxes and will dump a lot of art that he bought in Switzerland on the cheap and potentially can't sell on the market on unsuspecting taxpayers and that years from now we run the risk of museum directors crying about how they can't figure out where the artworks came from and that when Jewish families invoke Holocaust-era claims, the museums can hire expensive lawyers to deny that the Holocaust ever happened, much as museums are now doing.  A billion dollar loss to New York City taxpayers means fewer schools, crappier roads, and that another billionaire gets a free ride for offloading potential junk in his portfolio.

We need to stop museums from accepting junk provenances: those that are not published and based on readily-available documents and that can be subjected to peer review, as the ethics codes of professional historians require.  The culture of museum secrecy and obfuscation has to end. has given my article top billing here.

Center for Art Law calls it an article with "a cheeky title and noble purpose" in a post titled "Attorney's Appeal for Intervention Against Museums Addicted to Nazi Looted Art" here

Jasper Jottings focus on my attack on museums enabling tax cheats here

Sullivan & Worcester's Art Law Report called my arguments "compelling" and the article "noteworthy" pointing out that it raises arguments that museums cannot easily answer here
 Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. All practice, no theory.
Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2012-2013) by Raymond J. Dowd Copyright Litigation Handbook on Westlaw

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