Comment on in-kind payments with art

"The Revolution (Mural)" by David Alfaro Siqueiros

“The Revolution (Mural)” by David Alfaro Siqueiros

Julia L.M. Bogdanovich, a senior editor of thePennsylvania Law Review has authored an interesting comment examining how artists could pay taxes with in-kind payment. She uses a comparative approach highlighting both Mexico and the United Kingdom. From the Introduction:

According to popular accounts, in 1957 David Alfaro Siqueiros marched into Hugo B. Margáin’s office with a radical and risky proposal. There, the famous muralist bluntly told the new Director of Income Tax that the recent income tax reforms were unduly burdening Mexico’s artists because they “did not know about accounting or tax laws” and had no money with which to pay their obligations. “The only thing we have are paintings,” Siqueiros insisted. However, rather than seek a complete tax exemption for artists, he told Margáin that artists could instead pay taxes with their artwork. Because their art was valuable, Mexico could amass an enviable collection. Tasked with ensuring the success of the new tax system,8 perhaps Margáin was inclined to be creative, or perhaps he was an art aficionado. Regardless of his motives, Margáin replied, “It doesn’t seem like a bad idea.” Under Margáin’s leadership, the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit accepted Siqueiros’ proposal and launched a program called Pago en Especie (Payment in Kind) in November 1957, when it collected its first income tax payment in art.

  1. Julia LM Bogdanovich, Devising an Artful Tax: An Appraisal of Payment-in-Kind Income Taxes in Mexico and the United Kingdom, 164 U. Pa. L. Rev. 983 (2015).

Amineddoleh on Forgery Law

This work was the subject of a famous New York case where the art dealer Joseph Duveen was sued for questioning the authenticity of this work based only on viewing a photograph. The work may be by Leonardo da Vinci, or a contemporary.
“Portrait of a Woman, Called ‘La Belle Ferronnière’ ” sold for $1.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2014. This work was the subject of a famous New York case where the art dealer Joseph Duveen was sued for questioning the authenticity of this work based only on viewing a photograph. The work may be by Leonardo da Vinci, or a contemporary.

Leila Alexandra Amineddoleh has posted an abstract of her latest piece, which appeared in the Spring issue of the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. Amineddoleh, as many readers likely know, teaches art and cultural heritage law as an adjunct Professor at a good portion of New York’s law schools, including I think recently with St. John’s and Fordham. She also is a Partner and co-founder of her own art and cultural heritage law firm, Galuzzo & Amineddoleh.

Her article is titled Are You Faux Real? An Examination of Art Forgery and the Legal Tools Protecting Art Collectors. It follows up on her recent symposium piece in the International Journal of Cultural Property and gives a comprehensive and useful overview of some recent art forgery scandals, and the laws which apply.

Here’s the abstract:

The authorship of artwork greatly affects its value. For this reason, authentication in art is a complex and sometimes contentious process. This paper examines the history of art authentication, due diligence to ensure that purchasers are not buying forgeries, complex cases without clear-cut answers, and legal tools available to buyers after a forgery has been purchased.

Comment on Copyright Protections for Architecture

A view of one of the rooms in Taliesin in Wisconsin, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
A view of one of the rooms in Taliesin in Wisconsin, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Lauren Jean Bradberry, a third year law student at Louisiana State has a comment in volume 76 of the Louisiana Law Review examining the scope of copyright protection for architecture. It offers an interesting read, so long as you can forgive the puns we lawyers seem to love.

From the introduction:

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Student Comment: “The Law of Banksy: Who Owns Street Art?”

Banksy’s ‘mobile lovers’. It sparked a dispute between the Boys’ Club where it was painted, and the Bristol City Council which sought to seize it.

The artist Banksy creates valuable works of art, but he places them without permission, and this often raises property disputes. Peter Salib, a JD candidate at the University of Chicago has posted a draft of “The Law of Banksy: Who Owns Street Art?” It is an interesting examination of the problem, though comparative lawyers and those outside the United States may share my frustration that though the author uses as an example the dispute between a Boys’ Club in Bristol, and the Bristol City Council, and an artist who works frequently in the United Kingdom and all over the world, insists on focusing almost exclusively on American law.

From the abstract:

Street Art — generally, art that is produced on private property not owned by the artist and without permission — has entered the mainstream. Works by such artists as Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Shepard Fairey now sell at the world’s most prestigious auction houses, fetching prices in the millions. Strangely, however, the law governing street art ownership is entirely undeveloped. The circumstances of street art’s creation — often involving artists’ clandestine application of their work to the sides of buildings owned by others — render traditional legal paradigms governing ownership intractable. If Banksy paints a valuable mural on the side of my house, who owns it? Me? Banksy? Someone else? American law is currently ill-equipped to answer the question.

This article rigorously investigates the problem of street art ownership. It accounts for the unusual circumstances of street art creation and distribution. It then considers the possible legal regimes for governing street art ownership and comes to a surprising recommendation.

  1. Peter N. Salib, The Law of Banksy: Who Owns Street Art?, SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2711789 (Social Science Research Network), Jan. 6, 2016.
  2. Owner of Banksy Mobile Lovers youth club received death threats, The Independent (Aug. 27, 2014), http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/banksy-mobile-lovers-sold-owner-of-youth-club-where-artwork-appeared-in-bristol-received-death-9695327.html.

Special Heritage issue of Near Eastern Archaeology

NEA78-3_cover-1The Journal of Near Eastern Archaeology has a special issue covering the “Cultural Heritage in the Middle East”. There are ten contributions covering Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Afghanistan. All of the contributions are available on JSTOR. From the contents:

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Student Note on the Scythian Gold from Crimea

press-release-the-crimea-gold-and-secrets-of-the-black-sea

Maria Nudelman in a student note for the Fordham International Law Journal discusses “Who Owns the Scythian Gold? The Legal and Moral Implications of Ukraine and Crimea’s Cultural Dispute”.

From the introduction:

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Vadi on Global Cultural Governance

The Old Town Cathedral, Vilnius, Lithuania
Does a parking garage belong under this?The Old Town Cathedral, Vilnius, Lithuania

Valentina Vadi, a reader in Law at Lancaster University has published an article in the Boston University International Law Journal titled “Global Cultural Governance by the Investment Arbitral Tribunals: The Making of a Lex Administrativa Culturalis“. It highlights some interesting contradictions between the promotion of cultural heritage and the legal constraints of international investment law.

From the Abstract:

The protection of cultural heritage is a fundamental public interest,closely connected to fundamental human rights and deemed to be among the best guarantees of international peace and security. Economic globalization has spurred a more intense dialogue and interaction among nations, potentially promoting cultural diversity. However, this phenomenon may also jeopardize cultural heritage. Foreign direct investments in the extraction of natural resources have the ultimate capacity to change cultural landscapes and erase memories. Foreign investment in cultural industries can induce cultural homogenization. However, international investment law constitutes a legally binding and highly effective regime that requires that states promote and facilitate foreign direct investment. Does the existing legal framework adequately protect cultural heritage vis-à-vis economic globalization? This Article investigates the distinct interplay between the promotion of foreign direct investment and the protection of cultural heritage in international law, addressing the question of whether a lex administrativa culturalis, or cultural administrative law, has emerged. In particular, this Article questions whether international investment law and arbitration can be a tool for enforcing international cultural law and whether arbitral tribunals can promote good and effective cultural governance.