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A Perfectly Preserved Tomb Discovered Near Cairo & More Art World Headlines

May 3, 2019

Authors: Jana S. Farmer, Samantha J. Funt

Tartlawdighe following are summaries of news reports pertaining to art law and art markets, organized by geographic regions for your browsing convenience. Wilson Elser’s Art Law practice team will transition this service to our new Art Law Blog, due to launch in the near future.

UNITED STATES

Chicago Institutes a Registry to Protect Street Art
Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events launched a program to protect street artworks and created a public database of such works. Artists are encouraged to submit their works for inclusion in the database, provided the art was either commissioned or sanctioned by the property owner.

Congressional Leaders Reintroduce Bill to Establish the National Museum of the American Latino
S.1364, introduced by a group of bipartisan congressional leaders, seeks to open a museum illuminating Latino contributions to the history of the United States. If successful, the new museum will join the other Smithsonian Institution museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

New York Galleries Face Claims of ADA Violations Pertaining to Their Websites
Like many other businesses before them, multiple New York art galleries became the target of lawsuits that allege that the galleries’ websites are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act in that they are allegedly not fully accessible to persons with visual or hearing impairments. While there is little guidance on the federal level as to how ADA applies to the internet, this determination is left to the courts. Several recent appellate court decisions determined that websites are places of public accommodations subject to the ADA. New York lawmakers are planning to address the recent surge in ADA website accessibility lawsuits.

Frieze Sculpture Comes to Manhattan and Frieze New York Returns to Randall’s Island
Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center, running from April 25 through June 28, is free and open to the public. Tickets for the eighth edition of Frieze New York are on sale now. The annual event with be held May 2-5, 2019, at Randall’s Island Park.

SOUTH AMERICA

More than 30,000 Imperial Artifacts Discovered Beneath a Rio de Janeiro Zoo
During the refurbishment of the RioZoo in Rio de Janeiro’s Quinta da Boa Vista Park, archeologists discovered a trove of ceramics, clothing and other artifacts dating from the 19th to 20th centuries. The majority of the objects will be given to country’s National Museum, which lost most of its collection during a devastating fire last September.

EUROPE

Paul Signac’s Painting "Port de la Rochelle,” Stolen Last Year, Was Recovered in Ukraine
The 1915 painting by French artist Paul Signac reported stolen last year from the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy, France was discovered in Kiev, Ukraine. All suspects were apprehended. The artwork will be returned to the museum. Police are investigating whether the same group was involved in an art theft of a Pierre-August Renoir paining in Vienna last year.

The European Commission Considers Tightening Regulations of Ivory Trade
The EU commissioned a 62-page report from the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC on the re-export of worked ivory, ivory imports and intra-EU trade in ivory from 2012-2016. Hugo-Maria Schally of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment made it clear that the European Commission wishes to move forward on measures to combat illegal trade as quickly as possible Art and antiques is the leading ivory trade sector.

Dealers Found Guilty of Selling Unauthorized Casts of Rodin’s Original Molds
While sculptor Auguste Rodin bequeathed to the French State the rights to produce casts based on his plaster molds, some of the molds never made it to the Musée Rodin, which presently controls the production of Rodin’s work. Instead, these molds were allegedly acquired by one of the defendants, who sold them to the other. One of the dealers argued that the artist’s work was no longer under copyright. According to The Art Newspaper, however, the bronzes at issue were not marked as “reproductions”; moreover, Rodin’s signature was reportedly included on some of them. Prosecution therefore claimed that buyers could have been misled that they were buying genuine Rodin sculptures. The case, which lasted nearly two decades, resulted in the two dealers being found guilty of selling unauthorized copies of Rodin’s works.

German Court Rules that Artworks Discarded in the Garbage Still Belong to the Artist
A court in Cologne, Germany, fined a man who scavenged discarded artworks from the garbage outside artist Gerhard Richter’s residence and later attempted to consign them to an auction house. The man was found guilty of theft, and the court held that discarded artworks still technically belong to the artist.

Climate Change Demonstrators Demand “The Truth” at the London Museum
After a week of heavy protests that resulted in a significant police response and more than 1,000 individual arrests, the climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion staged a mass “die-in” at the National History Museum in London on April 22, 2019. Some 100 people lay on the floor beneath the museum’s blue whale skeleton for a half hour of silence to highlight what they call the “sixth mass extinction.” The protest also featured a performance by the “Red Brigade” who appeared in their distinctive red robes and stark white makeup and danced to classical music. The activists aim to eliminate carbon emissions by 2025 and support a citizen’s assembly to track progress, demanding politicians “tell the truth about climate change.”

Banksy’s “Season’s Greetings” Artwork May Have Found a New Home at a Former Police Station
A work of the elusive street artist Banksy, which appeared this past Holiday Season on a garage wall in Port Talbot in South Wales, is expected to remain in the town as local authorities reached an agreement with the present owner that it will be housed in a former police station, at least for the next few years.

German Institutions Continue Repatriation Efforts of Ancestral Remains
Following public criticism over the display of human remains in museums and universities, German institutions will return the remains of 53 indigenous ancestors to Australia, which is pursuing further repatriations from Germany. Many of these remains were discovered by explorers.

ASIA

Uzbekistan Opens a Contemporary Art Museum
A new Centre for Contemporary Art opened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in a former power station. The new institution plans to combine art, cinema and experimental theater and to feature art residences and children’s workshops. The Centre partnered with Tate Modern to organize its opening exhibition, Light on the Hill, by the Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova.

Indian Court Enjoins Kochi-Muziris Biennale’s Organizers from Selling Equipment
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India is the largest art exhibition and festival in South Asia. Following the conclusion of its fourth edition in March, the exhibition’s organizers were temporarily enjoined by the court from selling off some of the equipment from the exhibition in a dispute over payment.

AFRICA

A Perfectly Preserved Tomb Discovered in Saqqara Necropolis Near Cairo
The 4,000-year-old tomb, believed to have been created for an ancient Egyptian nobleman, "Khewi," dating back to the Fifth Dynasty (spanning the 25th and 24th centuries BCE), was discovered at the Saqqara necropolis, south of Egypt’s capital city. Despite the age, the tomb is remarkably well preserved, as demonstrated by the colorful photographs featured in the Artnet News article.

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