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Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
Koons Sued for Taking Shot of Gin
Photographer Mitchel Gray is suing Jeff Koons for using an image he shot for a Gordon’s Dry Gin advertisement in 1986 in the painting “I Could Go For Something Gordon’s,” part of Koons’s series of appropriated ads, Luxury and Degradation. Gray, who only learned of the offending piece in July, is seeking unspecified and punitive damages, as well as any profits Koons derived from the work.
Verdict: Will Gray v. Koons be the next Cariou v. Prince?
ISIS Prisoners Forced to Smash Graves
Captives held by ISIS in Mosul are being made to vandalize the city’s cemeteries, smashing graves and tombstones. The bizarre form of punishment appears to be the latest front in the group’s campaign to eradicate any signs of any way of worshiping other than its own.
Verdict: What grave news.
Art Thief Tags Artist in Pic of Purloined Pieces
Verdict: Chalk it up to yet another thing ruined by social media — art thievery.
Museum Membership Services Worker Does Some Self-Service
An employee at Chicago’s Field Museum stole $900,000 over the course of seven years while selling memberships at the institution’s entrance. The (now former) employee is being investigated by federal authorities.
Verdict: Upon discovering the theft in 2014, the Field Museum put the worker out to pasture.
Crooks Steal 30 Artworks in Markus Lüpertz Studio Break-in
Thieves broke into artist Markus Lüpertz‘s studio outside Berlin and made off with some 30 artworks — including paintings, prints, and drawings. Lüpertz estimated the combined value of the lost work to be over $1 million.
Verdict: Good luck unloading those lifted Lüpertzes — no auction house or secondary market gallery will dare touch them.
Nicolas Cage to Hand Over Stolen Tyrannosaurus Skull
Actor Nicolas Cage has agreed to turn over the fossilized skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar that he bought from a Beverly Hills gallery in 2007 for $276,000, after it was determined that it had been stolen from Mongolia. He will hand it over to the Department of Homeland Security, which will see to the skull’s safe return.
Antiquities Dealer Dealt House Arrest
Munich-based antiquities dealer Leonardo Patterson, who has been in trouble with the FBI, Interpol, and other agencies in the past for allegedly dealing in forged and looted artifacts, was sentenced to three years of home confinement and probation, along with a fine of about $40,000, and ordered to return two authentic Olmec carvings to Mexico.
Verdict: Patterson’s activities read like fiction (if only they were!) — this passage is particularly excellent:
In 1984, the F.B.I. charged him with trying to sell a fake Mayan fresco to a dealer in Boston. A year later, while on probation, he was arrested at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and later convicted of illegally importing a pre-Columbian ceramic figure dated between A.D. 650 and A.D. 850. He also had with him 36 sea turtle eggs in violation of an international endangered species convention — items he claimed were part of his health diet.
Antiquities Dealer Duo Dealt Probation
Former antiquities dealer Jonathan Markell was sentenced to 18 months in jail for making false declarations when importing artifacts from Southeast Asia. Both he and his wife, Cari, were sentenced to probation for a tax evasion ploy in which they donated looted objects to museums to obtain tax write-offs. (Their donations resulted in raids on 13 museums in January 2008, including LACMA, the Pacific Asia Museum, and the Bowers Museum.)
Verdict: Couples that evade taxes together stay together — that is, until one of them gets sent to jail for tax evasion.
Collector Sues Native American Artifacts Dealer
Collector Reuben Setliff is suing dealer Larry Belitz for allegedly swindling him out of $421,000 for artifacts that Belitz claimed had belonged to Sitting Bull, Lone Bull, Crazy Horse, and other Native American heroes. Setliff says they’re inauthentic.
Verdict: Sounds like Belitz’s stories about Lone Bull and Sitting Bull were a load of bull.
Artist’s Foundation Flipflops on Painting’s Authenticity
Collector Richard Fisher sued the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation for declaring in 2012 that a Konchalovsky painting he had bought from Sotheby’s in 1991 — when the foundation deemed it authentic — was actually inauthentic. Fisher, who had planned to consign the painting to Sotheby’s to resell it, says he was cheated out of $800,000 because of the foundation’s declaration.
Verdict: The Petr Konchalovsky Foundation is giving artist foundation authentication boards a bad name.
Editor’s Note: This endorsement is part of a special edition that Hyperallergic published on the ongoing legal case to return the photos of Renty and Delia Taylor to their descendants. * * * Your Honour — On April 11, 2018, The New York Times published a report on the differential outcomes for maternal and infant…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…