EASL Presents Recent Nazi-Era Looted Art Claims and Legal Rights in Life Stories

On January 24, 2011, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association held its annual meeting at Hilton New York. The program included two panels: Nazi-Era Art Restitution: Recent Case Developments and Whose Life is It Anyway? Life Stories in Media.

During the panel dedicated to the recent art restitution cases, with Judith A. Bresler, co-author of Art Law treaties and Partner at Withers Bergman LLP (New York, NY) moderating, Donald S. Burris, Partner with Burris, Schoenberg & Walden, LLP (Los Angeles, CA) spoke about Altmann v. Austria, 335 F. Supp. 2d 1066 (C.D. Cal 2004) and Beningson v. Alsdorf, 2004 WL 803616 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 15, 2004). Howard N. Spiegler (Herrick, Feinstein, LLP — NY) reviewed details of the seminal case and settlement terms of U.S. v. Portrait of Wally, No. 99-CV-09940 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jul. 29, 2010). Raymond J. Dowd, Partner with Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller, LLP (New York, NY) discussed the current state of the Bakalar v. Vavra litigation. 2008 WL 4067335 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } Simon J. Frankel, Partner with Covington & Burling, LLP (San Francisco, CA) reviewed details of MFA v. Claudia Seger-Thomschitz, No. 08-10097-RWZ (D. Mass. 2009), aff’d No. 09-1922 (1st Cir. Oct. 14, 2010) regarding ownership of Oskar Kokoschko’s, Two Nudes (1913). Lucien Simmons, Senior Vice President at Sotheby’s (New York, NY) explained how the Restitution Department of the auction house reacts to gaps in provenance and red flags raised by World War II ownership of consigned property as well as how Sotheby’s assists art possessors and claimants resolve title disputes.

Stephen B. Rodner, Partner at Pryor Cashman LLP (New York, NY) moderated the panel on legal transactional issues and cases dealing with depiction of life stories of real people in film, television, books and social media. Tom J. Ferber, also partner with Pryor Cashman, LLP, explained right of publicity and discussed the cases that have shaped the legal landscape on life stories in media in the recent decades, including Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994, (2nd Cir. 1989) and Youssoupoff v. CBS, Inc.. 41 Misc.2d 42 (N.Y. 1963). Robert C. Harris, Partner at Lazarus & Harris, LLP (New York, NY) discussed false light claims, creation of biopics and value of well-drafted disclaimers. Richard M. Roberts (Law Office of Richard Roberts, Newark NJ) spoke about his first-hand experience of being depicted in a docudrama American Gangsters. Finally, Eric Zohn, Senior Vice-President of William Morris Agency Inc. (New York City) stressed the importance of negotiating clear terms in contracts and release agreements for both individuals who are subjects of docudramas and creators of stories depicting real people. Zohn concluded with a nod to the Borat film release agreement, having noted that while the overly-broad waiver has been criticized, it succeeded in protecting the film producers from legal claims of appropriation of likeness, defamation, or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Psenicska v. 20th Century, Nos. 08-4604-cv, 08-6053-cv, 08-4818-cv (2nd Cir. 2009).

Images: O. Kokoschko, Two Nudes; N. Sarony, Portrait of Oscar Wilde

Comments welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s