Saturday, December 13, 2014

75 Last Minute 2014 Year-End Tax Savings Tips from Dunnington

Season’s Greetings!

As the year comes to a close, so does the period for tax planning for the year 2014.  My partner Joe Michaels has composed a Memorandum entitled "75 Last Minute 2014 Year-End Tax Savings Tips” that you may find helpful in doing some last minute 2014 income, gift and estate tax planning, as well as of assistance in preparing your 2014 Federal, State and local income tax returns, and planning for the coming year.  The Memorandum may be accessed by clicking here.  The Memorandum is interactive in the sense that if you “click” on a subject in the index, it will take you directly to that subject.

The first two introductory pages review some of the overall provisions and some changes that became effective in 2014, as well as reminders regarding certain issues.  The top Federal income tax bracket remains at 39.6% for 2014 and 2015, the maximum rate of tax on dividends and interest is 20% for 2014 and 2015, the gift tax annual exclusion remains at $14,000 for 2014 and 2015, but the lifetime gift/estate tax exemption rises from $5,340,000 in 2014 to $5,430,000 effective January 1, 2015.  The 3.8% Medicare tax on high earners’ investment income and additional 0.9% Medicare tax added to the 1.45% already paid by a highly paid employee on his/her compensation and the earnings of “highly paid” self-employed individuals remain in place.  The Summary also includes a review of the changes to the New York estate tax laws effective April 1, 2014 and advises that as of the date of this Memorandum, there are some 57 tax provisions (mostly “tax credits”) that have not been extended to 2014 and another six that will expire on December 31, 2014.  It is possible that Congress may extend these credits to 2014 and beyond, so it would be wise to consult your tax advisor in future months to determine whether all or part have been extended.

Section 74 of this Memorandum includes a summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  Most of these provisions are now in effect.  Section 75 contains a description of some Offshore and Foreign Tax Provisions enacted in prior years but which still impact 2014 and future years.

If you have any questions regarding any of the income, gift or estate tax planning ideas or other provisions summarized in “75 Last Minute 2014 Year-End Tax Savings Tips,” please let us know.

Best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.
 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

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Saving Mona Lisa: Nazi Art Looting and The Great Treasures of The Louvre

Nazi Art Looting Revealed: Book Review: Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle To Protect The Louvre & Its Treasures During World War II by Gerri Chanel (2014 Heliopa Press) $18.95 325 pp.

         "You put all your artwork in a basement?  You're crazy!" yelled James Rorimer at a director of the Louvre Museum when, in the summer of 1944 he learned how the French had managed to safeguard the Louvre's treasures against the ravages of World War II.  According to Gerri Chanel, author of Saving Mona Lisa, this exchange did nothing to endear Rorimer, who would go on to become the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and who would be immortalized by the actor Matt Damon in George Clooney's film "Monuments Men," to the French.

         In Saving Mona Lisa, Gerri Chanel has succeeded in an original work of scholarship that grips the reader in with stories of French bureacrats tying up Adolph Hitler, Hermann Goring and the various Nazi art looting efforts in administrative red tape.   Any reader who has run into the famous French bureaucratic intransigeance will laugh at Louvre Museum Director Jacques Jaujard's creative ways of thwarting a rogue's gallery of Nazis as he careens around France with masterworks tied to unsteady trucks.

        Chanel illustrates just why the French are the world’s masters of diplomacy and intrigue. When Fieldmarshal Hermann Goering sought to steal important artworks and hide his tracks by proposing a voluntary "exchange" (under obvious duress) that would avoid an international outcry that an outright theft would create, Jaujard brilliantly proposed that France make a "gift" to Goering.  Jaujard knew the gesture would enrage Hitler and world opinion against Goering. The Fieldmarshal was stopped in his tracks. Momentarily.
        Chanel starts from the beginning, showing Hitler as a failed artist whose great ambition was to possess the world’s great art treasures, particularly those in France deemed of “Germanic’ origin.  As Nazi fortunes waxed and waned, Nazi attempts to seize, exchange, "safeguard" the Louvre's treasures increased in innovation and dark violence.  Jaujard's efforts to thwart the Nazis were undercut by an eagerly pro-Nazi Vichy regime, on the one hand.  On the other, sympathetic Nazis assisted Jaujard in his game of administrative chess.  The Nazi military administration insisted on control, as did the civilian overseers.  By pitting Nazi against Nazi in a delicate battle of the egos, the smooth French diplomat Jaujard escaped from one frying pan into the next fire in a gripping narrative that will have the reader, feeling Nazi hands around Jaujard's vulnerable French throat.

         Central to the narrative is the Mona Lisa.  A red dot was placed on the crate of any important artwork.  Very important works sported two red dots.  The Mona Lisa was the only artwork sporting three red dots.  To avoid Nazis learning of the contents of a particular crate, the dots were the only markings.  Among thousands of crates, important artworks were able to hide in plain sight, while the French pretended to compile inventories to comply with orders emanating directly from Hitler.  Among thousands of crates, the Mona Lisa spend the war dodging, ducking and evading.

         Chanel's tale is enhanced by enemies feared more than Nazi looters.  Humidity, fire, Allied bombs, flame-spewing transport trucks fired by coal (after gasoline supplies ran out), French resistance fighters hiding weapons and literature among crates.... Chanel brings all of these dangers to light in a compelling way that will cause any art lover's blood pressure to rise and fingernails to be chewed off.

Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa - Still Smiling!

         In April 1943 London's BBC broadcast the radio message "the Mona Lisa is smiling" to a puzzled, war torn continent.  This coded message let Jaujard know that the Allies had received his maps showing the locations of the Louvre's treasures and that Allied bombers had been instructed to avoid those areas.

         Saving Mona Lisa is amply illustrated.  Photos showing the battle scars on the wall of the Louvre and the masses of people stampeding in the runup to the liberation of Paris emphasize how the Louvre was physically located on the front lines of battle during hand to hand combat.

         In 2014, the world's museums have come under fire for failing to research the provenance of their artworks and to return them to Nazi victims.  Saving MonaLisa is a great example of a greater history being told through the provenance of one artwork.   The story contains deaths, failures (Nazis burned approximately five hundred artworks in the Tuileries gardens despite the best efforts of Jaujard and his spy Rose Valland who was stationed in the Jeu de Palme museum that was used as a Nazi staging point).  While Mona Lisa escaped, many other artworks did not, including collections looted from Jewish families.The full story is yet to be told, and the museums of the world and particularly the United States should commit resources to returning stolen artworks to the families of looting victims.  Let's hope that Chanel's SavingMona Lisa will inspire a new generation of provenance researchers to look at the fruits of Nazi art looting that may be found in their local museums.
George Clooney's The Monuments Men - Cate Blanchett as Rose Valland and Matt Damon as James Rorimer

         Let’s hope that Hollywood and history pays attention to Saving Mona Lisa --where the truth is more entertaining than fiction!
 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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art Law Event Of The Year This Friday!

7th Annual Art Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Institute

Friday, November 21, 2014, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Member Price:   $200
Non-Member Attorney Price:   $250
Law Office Staff:   $50

Intended Audience:
Non-attorney may register as law office staff
Click Here to download orderform

Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium
Course ID: C112114
Credits: 8 NJ Credits: 3 Ethics; 5 General
8 NY Credits: 3 Ethics; 1 Skills; 4 PP/LPM; Transitional and Non-transitional
Course Description:
For the 7th consecutive year, join us for this special program which brings together a diverse roster of speakers ranging from artists, art consultants, appraisers, members of the bench, bar, museums, art galleries,  auction houses,  to government officials and members of non-profit organizations as they discuss the most relevant legal issues affecting the art world today.
Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Panel 1: Public Art -- Legal Controversies Over Large-Scale Displays
Panel 2: Should Artists Get a Cut? Resale Rights on Capitol Hill
Panel 3: Real or Fake? What's Happening With Authentication and Indemnification
Lunch (Provided) and Keynote Address
Panel 4: Matter of Flamenbaum and the Recovery of Antiquities -- News from the NY Court of Appeals
Panel 5: Are Museums Researching Their Collections? International Museum Ethics and the Holocaust
Closing Remarks and Questions and Answers

Lunch will be provided
Program Chairs: Andrea Crane, Private Art Dealer; Hon. Stephen Crane (Ret.), JAMS; Raymond Dowd, Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP
Featured Artist: Frank Stella
Keynote Speaker: Lucian Simmons, Senior Vice President, Provenance and Restitution, Sotheby's

Introduction By: Judd B. Grossman, Grossman LLP, Chair, NYCLA's Art Law Committee
Program Co-sponsors: NYCLA's Art Law Committee and Entertainment Intellectual Property & Sports Law Section
Faculty: Leila Amineddoleh, Galluzzo & Amineddoleh, Adjunct Professor, Fordham University School of Law; Hon. Ariel E. Belen (Ret.), JAMS; Peg Breen, President, The New York Landmarks Conservancy; Sean Avery Cavanaugh, Vice President, Milton and Sally Avery Foundation; Hon. Matthew Cooper, NYS Supreme Court; Hon. Stephen Crane (Ret.), JAMS; Raymond Dowd, Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP; Darlene B. Fairman, Herrick, Feinstein LLP;. Dr. Wesley A. Fisher, Director of Research Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.;Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis, E.D.N.Y.;Hon. Paul G. Gardephe, SDNY;Judd B. Grossman, Grossman LLP; Hon. Barbara Jaffe, NYS Supreme Ct.;  Lisa Kim, Cultural Affairs Director at Two Trees Management; Betty Krulik, Betty Krulik Fine Art Limited, President, Board of Directors Appraisers Association of America; Hon. Edward W. McCarty, III, Surrogate's Court, Nassau County; Victoria Milne, NYC Department of Design and Construction; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, US Representative, NY 10th Congressional District; Seth Presser, Jaspan Schlesinger LLP; Steven R. Schlesinger, Jaspan Schlesinger LLP; Lucian Simmons, Senior Vice President, Provenance and Restitution, Sotheby's;Howard N. Spiegler, Herrick, Feinstein LLP; Frank Stella, Artist; Irina Tarsis, Director and Founder of Center for Art Law
 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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pretrial Practice in the Southern District of New York - Thurgood Marshall Courthouse


Federal Bar Association

Southern District New York Chapter & Civil Rights Section

In Conjunction with New York County Lawyers’ Association

Cordially Invites You to this CLE:

Pre-Trial Practice in the Southern District of New York

A Panel Discussion with the Magistrate Judges of the SDNY 

November 13, 2014

4:00 -7:00PM 

SDNY Thurgood Marshall Courthouse,

40 Centre Street, Room 506, New York, NY 

Topics Include:

Initial Conference, Discovery & Sanctions, Settlement Conferences,

Consent to Proceed before a Magistrate Judge, and Best Practices

3 NY Credits: 0.5 Ethics; 1.5 Skills; 1 PP/LPM; Transitional and Non-transitional

The New York County Lawyers’ Association is currently certified as an Accredited Provider of

Continuing Legal Education in New York and New Jersey.

        Moderator: Wylie Stecklow, Stecklow Cohen & Thompson

        Scheduled Panelists:

           Hon. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger,
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis,    
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman,
           Hon. Chief Magistrate Judge Frank Maas,   
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Judith McCarthy,
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn,
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman,
           Hon. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith

Will include discussion among panelists and Q&A from participants


FBA and NYCLA Members: $40, all others $55*
 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

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Brandeis Association Selects Dunnington Partner Raymond J. Dowd To Commemorate 76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Egon Schiele's Town on the Blue River - Krumau (1910)
            Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd has been selected to speak at “Murder, Mystery & Masterpieces: The Ethical Implications of World War II Stolen Art,” to be presented by the Brandeis Association and the Queens Women’s Bar Association. The event will take place the Queens County Bar Association (90-35 148th Street, Jamaica, NY) tonight at 6:00 p.m., the date being chosen to coincide with the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938). A light kosher supper will precede the event, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
       The Nazis are infamous for their rampant theft of artworks belonging to Jewish people and others deemed undesirable. Public awareness of this pillaging has only grown in recent years with the release of films such as The Monuments Men (2014) and The Rape of Europa (2006). Additionally, newly opened archives in the United States and Europe have contributed to an ever-increasing number of claims brought by the Nazis’ victims and their descendants. As a result, the body of case law pertaining to such matters is constantly growing and evolving.
       Mr. Dowd recently represented the heirs of Holocaust victim Fritz Grunbaum, who was killed at Dachau in 1941, in coming to a restitution settlement agreement concerning the painting Town on the Blue River (Stadt am blauen Fluss – Krumau), painted by Egon Schiele in 1910. The watercolor landscape was among eighty-one works of art by Schiele seized from Mr. Grunbaum’s apartment in Vienna by the Gestapo in March 1938. In 1998, a spotlight was shone upon Mr. Grunbaum’s fate and that of his art when New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau confiscated the painting Dead City III from New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, where it was on loan from Austria. Because the exhibition was immune from seizure as a result of an international treaty, the piece was ultimately returned; however, the incident was key in propelling the movement to restore Nazi-looted artworks to their rightful owners. Town on the Blue River was auctioned at Christie’s at their Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale on November 5, 2014, where it reached a record high of $2,965,000. The proceeds will be shared by Mr. Grunbaum’s heirs and those of Ilona Gerstel, in whose possession the piece spent nearly a half-century.

     Joining Mr. Dowd in this discussion of art stolen during World War II and the legal and ethical complications in which the restitution of such pieces is mired will be Professor John Q. Barrett of St. John’s University School of Law, who also serves on the Expert Advisory Committee of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. Following presentation of recent happenings relating to Holocaust-era assets and discussion of their longer-term impact, Mr. Dowd and Professor Barrett will welcome questions from the audience.
The event is free. To register, please click here.

About the Brandeis Association The Brandeis Association was established in 1969 as a Not for Profit Corporation. The stated purpose of the Bar association, as set forth in both the Brandeis Constitution and Articles of Incorporation, is to encourage friendship and culture among our members, to foster respect for law and legal institutions and to vigorously assert its interest in justice and fair play in the County of Queens and in the City and State of New York. All members of the Judiciary, Lawyers, Court personnel and others who support the Jewish faith and the U.S. Constitution are eligible for membership.
About Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd Mr. Dowd’s practice focuses on litigation in federal and state trial and appellate courts, arbitration and mediation for cases involving art law, copyrights, trademarks, cybersquatting, privacy, trusts and decedents’ estates, licensing, corporate and real estate transactions. He lectures frequently on copyright and art-related topics and has presented in many venues, including at the 2009 Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, where he served on an expert panel, the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the San Francisco War Memorial, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In 2007, he co-founded the Art Litigation and Dispute Resolution Institute at New York County Lawyers’ Association. Mr. Dowd authors Copyright Litigation Handbook (West 7th Ed. 2013-2014)(updated annually). Currently Mr. Dowd serves on the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association, having earlier held the positions of President of the Southern District of New York Chapter (2006-2008) and general counsel of the national organization, and as President of the Network of Bar Leaders.
Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP was selected as a 2014 Top Ranked Law Firm for Intellectual Property by Corporate Counsel/ALM/The American Lawyer. Dunnington is a full-service law firm providing corporate, litigation, intellectual property, real estate, taxation and estate planning services for an international clientele. Find out more at
Attorney advertising. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes
 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

Monday, November 03, 2014

Can A Jewish Man Imprisoned In Dachau Concentration Camp Transfer Valid Legal Title To A Schiele Painting?

Egon Schiele's Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (1917)
On October 31, the family of Fritz Grunbaum gathered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial To The Holocaust to thank former District Attorney Robert Morgenthau for his efforts to recover Egon Schiele's Dead City III, an artwork he seized on behalf of Grunbaum's family at the MoMA in 1998.

Mr. Morgenthau, referring to the above drawing, read the following from a concurrence written by Judge Edward Korman when he sat by designation on  a case called Bakalar v. Vavra at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals:

Grunbaum was arrested while attempting to flee from the Nazis. After his arrest, he never again had physical possession of any of his artwork, including the Drawing. The power of attorney, which he was forced to execute while in the Dachau concentration camp, divested him of his legal control over the Drawing. Such an involuntary divestiture of possession and legal control rendered any subsequent transfer void.

Bakalar v. Vavra, 619 F.3d 136, 148 (2d. Cir. 2010)(concurrence).   The three judges on the Second Circuit panel in this published, precedential opinion found that the record suggested evidence that Nazis had looted Fritz Grunbaum's art collection and remanded to the trial court to reconsider the evidence.

Yet, despite what Judge Korman wrote, this week Sotheby's is planning to auction the Drawing without mentioning the Dachau power of attorney that Fritz was forced to execute, without mentioning Schenker, the Nazi looting entity that held the Drawing, and without mentioning Ludwig Rochlitzer, the Aryan trustee appointed to liquidate the Grunbaum's assets in January 1939.

To understand some of the facts relating to the Drawing's provenance, some explanation is necessary.
On March 22, 1938 Fritz Grunbaum was arrested by the Gestapo in Vienna and imprisoned in Dachau, where he died penniless.  Shortly after his arrest, a Nazi named Kieslinger inventoried Grunbaum's art collection.  Kieslinger counted 81 Schieles.  Five oils listed by name, including Dead City III.  The remaining 76 Schiele drawings and watercolors were not listed by title.
On April 26, 1938, the Nazis passed a decree requiring all Jews to declare their assets over 5,000RM.  According to the law, these Jewish assets were to be available to the Reich at the pleasure of Reichsmarshall Goering.  Each Jew was to declare the assets until the assets were gone or until the Jew had left the Reich.  On June 30, 1938, while in the Dachau Concentration Camp, Fritz was forced to execute a power of attorney (Vollmacht) permitting his wife to liquidate his assets.   Shortly thereafter under Nazi pressure and with her husband in a concentration camp, Fritz's wife Lily filed Jewish Property Declarations declaring Fritz's property, including the art collection with the Kieslinger inventory.  
Following Kristallnacht, the Nazis passed a decree forbidding Jews to buy or sell property and requiring the appointment of Aryan trustees to liquidate their property.  On January 1939, attorney Ludwig Rochlitzer wrote to Elisabeth Grunbaum, stating that the Nazis had appointed him to be the guardian of the "whole property" of the Grunbaums.

Thus, as of January 1939, Fritz and Elisabeth had lost control of their property as a matter of Nazi law.
The last Grunbaum Jewish property declaration was filed in June 1939.   Nazi-era export records show that a Nazi-controlled freight forwarding company named Schenker had possession of Fritz's art collection.  However, a lack of customs stamps on the export application showed that the art collection never left Vienna while the Nazis were in control.
Fritz died in January 1941.  In Nazi-era probate proceedings following Fritz's death, Elisabeth declared, under penalty of perjury, that Fritz had no property at the time of his death.  Elisabeth was deported to Maly-Trostinec, a death camp in Minsk in October of 1942.   She lasted so long because she had real property in Slovakia, and this took some time to sell.  The Nazis waited until a Jewish person had sold every last bit of property, including life insurance policies, before murdering them.
In the provenance of the Drawing, Schenker's possession is critically important, because it is the last place the Drawing was before it surfaced in Switzerland in 1956.  From court filings, an excerpt from a Schenker company history below in German with English translation following:
On September 18, 1956, art dealer Otto Kallir bought Dead City III and 18 other artworks by Egon Schiele, including the drawing above from a Swiss art dealer named Eberhard Kornfeld.   Kallir knew that Dead City III belonged to Grunbaum because he'd catalogued Grunbaum as the owner when he wrote a catalogue raisonee of Schiele's oils in 1930.    Even Eberhard Kornfeld's 1956 catalog listed Fritz Grunbaum as the immediate prior owner of Dead City III.

In 1928, Kallir borrowed 22 Schieles from Fritz Grunbaum for an exhibition at the Hagenbund commemorating the 10th anniversary of Schiele's death.   Many of those drawings were in the batch of Schieles Kallir purchased on September 18, 1956.   Kallir knew Fritz Grunbaum well and knew that Fritz was a famous cabaret performer who had been murdered in the Dachau Concentration Camp.   Thus, Kallir knew when he bought this batch of Schieles that they had been stolen by the Nazis from a concentration camp victim.

In 1998, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized Egon Schiele's Portrait of Wally and Dead City III when those works were on loan from Austria to the Museum of Modern Art.  Because Austria successfully questioned the standing of the claimants to Dead City III, the work was returned to Austria where it remains - although stolen from Fritz Grunbaum - in the Leopold Museum today.

In 1998, in the wake of the seizure of Dead City III by Morgenthau, Eberhard Kornfeld was asked where he'd gotten Dead City III and the other Schieles.  For the first time he claimed that he'd bought them in 1956 from Fritz Grunbaum's sister-in-law (despite his 1956 catalogue saying he'd gotten Dead City III from Fritz Grunbaum)  The only problem was that he never produced any invoice from his gallery to Lukacs that included the Drawing.  He produced a mess of obviously forged documents that handwriting experts expressed "massive doubts" as to their authenticity.  I have included a link to the report below.   To produce a final handwriting expert report, the experts needed to see the originals in Berne Switzerland.  However, Bakalar's lawyers and Kornfeld obstructed the experts from independently viewing the documents until court deadlines for discovery had expired.  Thus, no competent handwriting expert has yet been able to conduct a scientifically reliable comparison and thus to prove that the documents Kornfeld produced were forged.   But even among the documents that Kornfeld produced, there was no mention of the Drawing, and thus no documentary reason to include Lukacs in the Drawing's provenance.  Indeed, even assuming the forgeries to accurately list the artworks he acquired, Kornfeld did NOT acquire a 1917 drawing of a headless woman from Mathilde Lukacs.
In early 2008, Dr. Jonathan Petropoulos, a Ph.d from Harvard in history and one of the world's experts on Nazi art looting put together a report on the Drawing's provenance.  The report concluded that the Drawing was stolen.  The report concluded that the Mathilde Lukacs story was untrue.  The report can be found here:   Bakalar put in no expert report, but moved to exclude the report because it was filed after a court deadline.  The trial judge granted Bakalar's motion.

Thus, the trial court in Bakalar v. Vavra never dealt with the substance of the Petropoulos Report and with the proffered expert testimony demonstrating that the Nazis had looted the Drawing and that Mathilde Lukacs never had possesson of the Drawing.

Only time will tell whether Dr. Petropoulos' view of the Drawing's provenance will prevail as the view that is historiographically sound.   Only when handwriting experts gain access to Kornfeld's original documents and examine them with a stereoscopic miscroscope will we have scientifically sound proof of the forgeries.

But as a legal matter, Judge Korman's view of New York law would appear to be the one that the New York Court of Appeals would adopt, following its precedents in Menzel v. List, Guggenheim v. Lubbell, and Matter of Flamenbaum.  New York's Dead Man's statute bars as incompetent testimony relating to a transaction with a deceased, so Kornfeld's self-serving testimony is ordinarily inadmissible under New York law.   Since Kornfeld's own business records contradict the claim that he got the Drawing from Mathilde Lukacs, a New York court might well take the view, based on documentary evidence, that Mathilde Lukacs does not belong in the Drawing's provenance.  But see Bakalar v. Vavra 500 Fed.Appx. 6 2d. Cir. 2012 (unpublished summary order).
 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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Morgenthau Thanked For Recovery of Rare Stolen Schiele Painting - Museum of Jewish Heritage

New York, NY—Following a historic restitution settlement regarding the Stadt am Blauen Fluss -Krumau  (Town on the Blue River - Krumau), a 1910 watercolor painting by artist Egon Schiele,  a press conference will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust on October 31, 2014 at 10:15 a.m. The event will take place before the painting is offered for auction at Christie’s as part of the Impressionism & Modern Art Evening sale on November 5, 2014. 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage was chosen by the Grünbaum family to host the conference as a setting that would provide a place for reconciliation and healing, yet appropriately memorialize Franz Friedrich (Fritz) and Elisabeth Grünbaum in the context of the suffering of so many in the Holocaust and the resilience and resolve of those who resisted, escaped or survived. Speakers at the event will include former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, Museum Director Dr. David G. Marwell, and Timothy Reif, who will represent the Grünbaum family. Additional family members will be in attendance and available for interviews.

Robert M. Morgenthau, former Manhattan District Attorney who is now of counsel at Wachtel Lipton Rosen and Katz, said, “I am pleased to see families working together through difficult and painful issues and have nothing but praise for the role of Christie’s in bringing these families together and bringing this beautiful artwork into the public view in a way that we can all admire.  I believe that this resolution is the embodiment of the spirit of the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art that the United States signed in 1998 and that the museums and auction houses of our nation pledged to uphold.”

Timothy Reif — a Grünbaum family member who participated in launching in 1998 the effort to call attention to and reclaim Fritz Grünbaum’s art collection, which includes 81 works by the Austrian Expressionist master Egon Schiele — will be present.  In 1998, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized Egon Schiele’s Dead City III and Portrait of Wally.  The seizure led to the Washington Conference on Nazi-Confiscated Art of 1998.  Dead City III, which was looted from Fritz Grünbaum by Nazi authorities, was returned to Austria, where it is currently at the Leopold Museum, subject to the claims of the Grünbaum heirs. 

Timothy Reif said, “Today’s ceremony is a tribute to the courage of Fritz Grünbaum, who ridiculed the Nazis in his movies and cabaret performances throughout the 1930s, as well as to the courage of Mr. Morgenthau and his relentless commitment to the pursuit of justice.  We thank Christie’s and the Estate of Ilona Gerstel for acknowledging Fritz Grünbaum and his loss and acting appropriately.”

Museum Director, Dr. David G. Marwell said, “We honor the memory of victims of the Holocaust every day at this Museum and we remember the millions who, while they may have themselves survived, lost their communities, families, homes, and property.  While they can never recover what they have lost, it is important to set some things right when at all possible—no matter how long it takes.  Commemorating Holocaust victims and compensating the heirs of Holocaust victims and survivors represents a small measure of justice, and we commend all parties for their dedication to this cause.  We are honored to host these family members at the Museum to help us understand an important element of Holocaust Remembrance and make clear that justice – even delayed – is worthy of pursuit.”

On five other occasions the Museum of Jewish Heritage has held ceremonies for stolen paintings or artifacts.  Portrait of Wally, painted by famed Austrian artist Egon Schiele, which was the personal property of Lea Bondi Jaray, a Jewish art dealer in Vienna, who fled in 1939 to London, where she died in 1969. The painting subsequently became the subject of court proceedings in New York City from 1998 to 2010, after it was loaned in 1997 to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) by the Leopold Museum as part of an exhibition of Schieles from the Leopold Museum's collection.  Following a seizure  of the painting from the Museum of Modern Art and subsequent litigations and proceedings, the Leopold Museum agreed to pay the Estate a substantial sum that the painting was to be loaned by the Leopold Museum to this museum. The Seamstress, painted by famed German artist Lesser Ury in 1883, was subjected to a forced sale by the Nazis in 1940, but was returned to the Lowenthal Family in 1999. The Loewenthals immediately loaned the painting to the Museum of Jewish Heritage to ensure that the public was able to see it and enjoy it. In February 2001, the Museum hosted the news conference in which Olevano, painted by Alexander Kanoldt in 1927, was returned to the heirs of Holocaust victim Dr. Ismar Littmann. The painting was displayed at the Museum through April 2001. In April of 2009, the 17th-century Dutch painting Portrait of a Musician Playing a Bagpipe was returned to collector Max Stern’s estate and in November of 2009, a rare 16th century Viennese bible was returned to representatives of the Jewish community of Vienna.

About the Painting
Egon Schiele (Tulln 1890-1918 Vienna)
Stadt am blauen Fluss – Krumau (Town on the Blue River – Krumau), 1912
Signed with initial and dated “S. 10.” (lower right)
Gouache, watercolor, metallic paint and black Conté crayon on paper
17 ¼ x 12 ¼ in. (45 x 31.4 cm)
Executed in 1910
Among the exceptional works on paper featured in Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on November 5, 2014 is Egon Schiele’s Stadt am blauen Fluss (Krumau), executed in the summer of 1910, at a critical turning point in the artist’s career (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000).  Schiele traded the claustrophobic confines of Vienna for the summer in favor of the Bohemian landscape, seeking to pare down his style of landscape painting to its most essential elements, just as he had with figure painting previously.  The metamorphosis can be seen in ten land- and townscape paintings from that summer though the present landscape is one of only three outdoor subjects executed that year in non-opaque watercolor.  Schiele visualized the scene from a bluff overlooking the Moldau River, gazing toward a bend in the river on the eastern outskirts of the medieval Bohemian town of Krumau.  In contrast to the technique of post-Impressionist brushwork, Schiele allowed his fluid colors loose rein, contained within a framework of quickly drawn lines; the composition of Stadt am blauen Fluss is a startling demonstration of distance and space, stacked vertically in the flat modernist manner.    This  rare landscape represents one of the most stunning stylistic transformations to have been achieved in 20th century painting.   Stadt am blauen Fluss is being offered for sale pursuant to the successful resolution of a restitution settlement agreement between the Estate of Ilona Gerstel and the Gruenbaum Heirs, which allows for clear title to the work.  The proceeds will benefit several Holocaust-related charities that are beneficiaries of the Estate.

About the Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Museum’s exhibitions educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past century—before, during, and after the Holocaust.  Current special exhibitions include Against the Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-1941 and A Town Known as Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community. It is also home to the award-winning Keeping History Center, an interactive visitor experience, and Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones. The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall and receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

 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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht: Murder, Mystery and Masterpieces: Ethical Implications of WWII Stolen Art

The Brandeis Association and the Queens Women’s Bar Association 
Murder, Mystery & Masterpieces:
The Ethical Implications of World War II Stolen Art

Guest Speakers:

Professor John Q. Barrett, St. John’s University School of Law

Raymond J. Dowd, Esq., Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller, LLP

NOVEMBER 6, 2014,  6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Queens County Bar Association,
90-35 148th Street, Jamaica, NY 11435

Light Kosher Supper at 5:30

2.5 CLE Credits in Ethics and Professionalism. This event is free.  Registration is required for all participants before November 1, 2014.


This program commemorates the 76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Thank You To Our Co-Sponsors:

The Federal Bar Association: Eastern and Southern District of New York Chapters
 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

Friday, October 17, 2014


New York, NY (MMD Newswire) October 16, 2014 - Christie's auction house today announced the upcoming November 5 evening Impressionist and Modern auction of Town on the Blue River (1910) an extremely rare watercolor landscape by the Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918). The auction is the result of the successful resolution of a restitution settlement agreement with the estate of Fritz Grünbaum, a Viennese Jewish cabaret performer in (1880-1941) who died in the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Town on the Blue River (Stadt am blauen Fluss - Krumau)(1910)
In 1998, the plight of Fritz Grunbaum and his death in Dachau gained international headlines when District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized Dead City III from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Dead City III, together with 80 other artworks by Egon Schiele were in Grünbaum's apartment in Vienna when the Gestapo arrested him on March 22, 1938 and deported him to Dachau, where he was murdered. Although the MoMA was compelled to return Dead City III to Austria because its exhibition at MoMA in New York was immunized from seizure by treaty, the seizure garnered international headlines and led to the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in 1998 and to an international movement in favor of returning Nazi-looted artwork to Holocaust victims and their survivors.

Recent films such as George Clooney's Monuments Men and The Rape of Europa based on Allied efforts during World War II to recover artworks stolen by the Nazi regime have rekindled interest in recovering artworks belong to Jewish families.

Attorney Raymond J. Dowd of Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP in New York City stated: "On behalf of the Grunbaum heirs, I thank the Estate of Ilona Gerstel and Christie's for their cooperation in resolving the Holocaust restitution claim to Stadt am Blauen Fluss (Krumau) by Egon Schiele. The Grunbaum heirs and I are very pleased to completely support the sale of this important work at the Impressionist and Modem Evening Sale on November 5, 2014 in New York. We also want to acknowledge and thank the late Ilona Gerstel for her generosity in designating several important Holocaust-related charities as beneficiaries of her Estate."
 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

Friday, October 03, 2014

Law on the Half Shell: Film Screening and Discussion On Oysters and the Law October 15 in NYC

Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd invites you to a screening of the internationally acclaimed documentary SHELLSHOCKED – Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves and follow-up discussion of the legal controversies brewing over oysters.  The event is to be held on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the New York County Lawyers’ Association (14 Vesey Street, New York, NY).

Formerly known as the oyster capital of the world, New York Harbor is now bereft of oysters.  Overfishing and pollution have devastated oyster reefs worldwide, leading to their labeling as the ‘most severely impacted marine habitat’ on the planet.  With a single oyster able to filter over fifty gallons of water per day and reefs of oysters forming the bases of entire ecosystems and economies, the effects of this destruction have been dire.  Attempts are underway to rebuild oyster reefs, with New York Harbor the focus of the youth-led Billion Oyster Project.  Yet such endeavors have faced tremendous opposition, ranging from the Obama Administration’s removal in 2014 of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Marin County, CA and the Supreme Court’s subsequent refusal to review the decision, to the State of Massachusetts blocking current efforts to use oysters to clean up the polluted Mystic River, to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation hampering individual homeowner efforts to clean up New York’s polluted waterways through oyster farming.

SHELLSHOCKED – Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves, winner in the category of Best Short Feature at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival 2012, focuses on efforts to restore oysters to the waters where they once thrived and the pushback such undertakings have faced, both legally and environmentally.  Following the screening, SHELLSHOCKED director Emily Driscoll, Meredith Comi of the NY/NJ Baykeeper’s Oyster Restoration Program and internationally renowned geotherapy-focused artist Mara Haseltine will join Mr. Dowd in a discussion of these issues.

Tickets for Law on the Half Shell are available on the NYCLA website.  The cost is $35 for NYCLA members/$55 for non-members (includes 2 CLE credits) and $15 for non-attorneys.  We hope to see you there!

About Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd  Mr. Dowd’s practice consists of federal and state trial and appellate litigation, arbitration and mediation.  He has served as lead trial counsel in notable cases involving art law, copyrights, trademarks, cybersquatting, privacy, trusts and decedents’ estates, licensing, corporate and real estate transactions.  He has litigated questions of Austrian, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Russian and Swiss law and handled contentious matters in Surrogate’s Court, including Matter of Flamenbaum, 2013 NY Slip Op 07510 (Nov. 14, 2013), in which he succeeded in recovering an ancient Assyrian tablet for the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Mr. Dowd is the author of the acclaimed Copyright Litigation Handbook (West-Thomson Reuters) and frequently lectures on copyright litigation, including before the prestigious Copyright Society of the U.S.A.  In 2014, Copyright Litigation Handbook was selected by Cravath partners David Marriott and David Kappos for a copyright dispute externship at Columbia Law School.  At the 2009 Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, he was selected for an expert legal panel, and he has lectured widely at venues including the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the San Francisco War Memorial, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and many chapters of the Federal Bar Association.  In 2007, he co-founded the annual Art Litigation and Dispute Resolution Institute at New York County Lawyers’ Association.

Mr. Dowd is a graduate of Manhattan College (B.A. International Studies cum laude, 1986) and Fordham Law School (1991), where he served on the Fordham International Law Journal.  He speaks French and Italian.  He is admitted to practice in the State of New York and to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and to the First, Second, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP was selected as a 2014 Top Ranked Law Firm for Intellectual Property by Corporate Counsel/ALM/The American Lawyer.  Dunnington is a full-service law firm providing corporate, litigation, intellectual property, real estate, taxation and estate planning services for an international clientele.  Find out more at

Attorney advertising.  Past results do not guarantee future outcomes.
 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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska To Swear In New Federal Bar Association SDNY Chapter Officers October 7, 2014

Swearing In of New Officers by
The Honorable Loretta A. Preska
Chief Judge
Southern District of New York
October 7, 2014, 5 p.m.
Courtroom 12A
Daniel P. Moynihan United States Courthouse
500 Pearl Street
˜ Light refreshments 
Incoming Officers

President:                              Olivera Medenica, Esq.
President-Elect:                     Michael J. Zussman, Esq.
Vice President:                       Stacy E. Yeung, Esq.                   
Secretary:                               Ira R. Abel, Esq.
Treasurer:                              Steven S. Landis, Esq.
National Delegate:                Wylie M. Stecklow, Esq.
Delegate to the
Network of Bar Leaders:      William F. Dahill, Esq.
Government Relations:         Amy Gell, Esq.
 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