Wednesday, February 15, 2017


4 Times to Hire an Art Lawyer

Posted in The Business of Art - yesterday

The Fine Print: 4 Times to Hire an Art Lawyer

Sometimes, the only thing that separates a collector from a lengthy, pricey legal battle is some good professional advice. Hiring a savvy lawyer long before things get hairy can be one of the smartest, most proactive choices you can make to ensure that your art remains rightfully yours, that when you loan it out or bequeath it to an heir, the agreements align with your wishes. Lawyer Jonathan Freiman of Wiggin and Dana LLP offers a succinct explanation of when you should hire a lawyer: “buying, selling, lending, and defending.” These activities all involve risk, and a professional can help you better understand--and minimize--this risk. Of course, only some transactions / issues will merit the cost of working with one. If you’re buying a $500 photograph, for example, legal fees will probably be greater than the price of your work: not worth it. Freiman and Brooke Oliver of 50 Balmy Law P.C. offered more specifics about the cases they’ve handled and how collectors can best protect themselves in a variety of circumstances.
Here are four specific instances when consulting an attorney is recommended.
If you’re buying an artwork, a lawyer can draft or review your contract with the seller, advise on title insurance, and counsel you about provenance issues that might arise. Title insurance protects purchasers against chain of title and lien risks--with a policy, you gain a clear legal title to your artwork and prevent seizure of your works. Provenance, or the record of ownership for an artwork, is a crucial concern for collectors, as it can guarantee the authenticity of a work and ensure that nothing unacceptable (theft, expropriation, etc.) previously occurred with the work. “Lawyers can consult on a wide range of things and help a collector source other professionals,” says Oliver. “We know the most qualified people in the business.” Lawyers don’t generally authenticate or appraise work, or advise on investments, but they often maintain relationships with people who do. A knowledgeable, well-connected lawyer can offer aid far beyond the scope of his or her work. Freiman suggests using art title insurance company ARIS. “You’d never buy a house for half a million dollars without buying title insurance,” he says, “but there are plenty of people who buy paintings for half a million dollars without buying title insurance. And they should.”
Also... Oliver advises against buying on eBay, where you can’t confirm whether a work is authentic. She recounts a recent case for an artist client, for whom she removed over 100 listings of counterfeit sculptures falsely attributed to the artist. “Buying art online is really ‘buyer beware,’” she says. If you’re buying a poster online, that’s one thing. “If you’re buying even an expensive digital image or a stone lithograph or a silk screen, make sure you get a certificate of authenticity.”
If you’re selling a piece privately or if you’re consigning it to a private dealer, advises Freiman, you should have a lawyer either draft or review the sales or consignment contract.
If you’re loaning a work to a gallery for an exhibition, Oliver warns of an often-overlooked detail. If the dealer goes bankrupt while showing your work, creditors can attempt to seize it. Your art can become a casualty of a gallerist’s financial woes. Either ask the dealer to file a UCC1 (Uniform Commercial Code-1) statement indicating that you have a security interest in the property while it’s in the dealer’s hands, or file it yourself, with a lawyer’s aid.
When consigning a piece to a dealer to sell, make sure the dealer has insurance and that your piece will be covered under it. “The collector should ask for the certificate of insurance and to be named as an insured party under the dealer’s insurance,” says Oliver.
Freiman often works on issues regarding title claims--claims that a collector or entity (museum, foundation, etc.) doesn’t really own the artwork. He cites as one of his most famous cases a dispute between Yale and the government of Peru over artifacts from Machu Picchu. He’s also worked on issues involving Roman sculpture, Asian jewelry, Irish historical documents, Italian paintings, Native American grave repatriation, and more. These “cultural property” matters, antiquities issues, and expropriation cases investigate the past terms under which objects were acquired. What if it turns out that one of your artworks may have been looted by the Nazis or seized by a Communist government? Or what if you believe that one of your own ancestors suffered such a loss?
For analysis, advice, and perhaps eventual litigation, a lawyer is crucial. When someone makes a claim to your art, says Freiman, the most important thing to do is understand the facts and laws as well as you can. You don’t want to rush into court or make any kind of decision about settling until you consult a lawyer. “How good is their proof and what other type of fact finding can you do?” he asks. “For all of these things, you definitely want a lawyer to start with. Some claims are legitimate. Some are not.” You can’t know how to proceed--whether to attempt to compromise, or alternately refuse to speak to the claimant--until you marshal the facts.
You should also be aware of the statute of limitations, which varies from state to state. For example, says Freiman, New York’s statute of limitations does not begin to run until a person with a claim makes a demand and the person with the object refuses. In Connecticut, in contrast, the statute of limitations begins when the alleged wrong occurs. These slight differences in state law will greatly impact your case.
Oliver has advised clients on shipping matters, which she believes are part of any good art contract. She warns, as well, that it’s difficult to get FedEx, UPS, or other delivery services to pay for any damage incurred during shipping. Condition reports will help collectors confirm that the piece they’re receiving is in as good of shape as what they paid for.
Freiman addresses issues that arise with copyrights. “Copyrighting gives you permission to make reproductions, put the image in catalogs, have tee shirts and mugs made with the image, whatever you want,” he says. If this is important to you, make it clear in the contract. If you don’t bargain for this right, the artist retains rights to the image. He or she can make lithographs or other works that resemble the work that you own. Negotiation with the artist might be necessary in the case of site-specific works as well: a collector and an artist might have different ideas about how long a piece must stay in the location it was originally designed for, or how to disassemble the work after that period.  
So you’ve decided to hire a lawyer. Who should you choose? Freiman offers three simple considerations: specific experience, communication style, and price. “A lawyer should have experience doing the particular task that the client wants accomplished,” he says. Oliver agrees. If someone’s interested in collecting Southwest Native American pottery or rugs, for example, she says, “that’s a real specialty niche, and you would want somebody in that area who knows a lot about the trade and laws related to cultural artifacts.” She advises asking friends or acquaintances for referrals and checking Martindale-Hubbell, which gives peer ratings for attorneys. You can also discover firms on The Clarion List's database of art law firms or visit the bar website for the state where the lawyer practices to confirm that they don’t have any disciplinary action against them. Regarding communication skills, Freiman advises finding a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable, who keeps you in the loop, and maintains a flexibility that caters to your needs. You want a lawyer, he says, “who is putting herself in the client’s shoes, always asking whether this or that step is really worth it, giving the overall value of what’s at stake.”
Discover art law firms in your area on The Clarion List, the leading online resource for discovering top rated art service companies worldwide:

Trump Has Convinced An Accordion Player Not To Move To China

Keeping Jobs In America: Trump Has Convinced An Accordion Player Not To Move To China

Trump campaigned on a promise to keep jobs in America, but many wondered if he’d actually be able to fulfill this promise once he was in office. His latest move puts that question to rest. Trump has convinced an accordion player not to move to China.
Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit that he’s making good on his campaign promise to keep American jobs from being shipped overseas.
As soon as Trump heard that a Cleveland-area accordion player named David Gorski was considering a move to China, he immediately met with him to try and talk him out of it. During their meeting at the White House, Gorski expressed his motivations for moving to China, which reportedly included an offer from a friend in Beijing who needed an accordion player for his band as well as the fact that he’d “just been in Cleveland for a while now.” Trump spent the afternoon in tense negotiations with the musician, who typically gigs around the city and is available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and weddings. After several hours, Trump emerged with Gorski and announced that the Cleveland accordion player had decided not to move to China after all.
This is a big win for the Trump team, and it shows he’s serious about safeguarding American jobs.
According to White House officials, the accordion player’s decisision not to move to China was the result of a deal that Trump was able to negotate with him. The terms of the deal state that Gorski will go on vacation to China for two weeks, at which point he will return to Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The deal also includes a tax break and an invitation to perform at an upcoming Polish heritage dinner at the White House.
Trump triumphantly tweeted about the deal this afternoon:
And his administration followed suit:
Despite criticism from Democrats that the accordion player wasn’t ever that serious about moving to China, Trump supporters are likely to see this as Trump walking the walk. It remains to be seen if Trump’s deal will convince other accordion players considering moving to China to stay in the U.S., but one thing’s for sure: This is a major victory for the new president.

why switching off unlocks creativity


Too Fast To Think: why switching off unlocks creativity

Tanawat Sakdawisarak
We’re living in a constant state of distraction. Notified about everything from a colleague’s latest Tweet to a classmate from primary school’s birthday, the internet interrupts us incessantly. Anxiety about smartphone addiction has been running high for some time, with articles claiming that it’s damaging relationships and attention spans. But our always-on culture could also be costing us creatively. In his new book Too Fast To Think, Chris Lewis, CEO of global agency Lewis, explains how modern life is suffocating the part of our brain where ideas come from. To find out more about how we can create conditions that serve the mind’s creative process rather than subdue it, we decided to speak to Chris and a collection of creatives about their own experiences.
From artists to a military officer and clergyman, while researching Too Fast To Think Chris asked a range of people the same question: where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas? “The response was striking,” he says. “They all said that they were not at work, always alone and not trying.”
This makes sense when we look at how creativity works in the brain. Chris explains that our subconscious processes information and problems without us realising it. When it comes up with a solution, it will bubble up into our conscious brain, causing that flash of inspiration or eureka moment that many artists talk about.
“If the creative cycle is Induction, Incubation, Inspiration and Ignition in the ratio of 40/30/20/10, then 70% of the creative process actually occurs before people even think that they’re having an idea,” says Chris. “So if people want to be creative and you liken it to a weekly cycle, they should read on Monday and Tuesday about the problem, go off and do something that they really enjoy for Wednesday and Thursday and then by Friday, they’d be hit with the epiphany.”
Our brains are only open to subconscious thoughts when they are relaxed. “Often [the subconscious] won’t be able to interpose with the conscious mind until it is still and uninterrupted,” says Chris. In fact, Albert Einstein once said that “creativity is the residue of time wasted”.
However, in today’s society our conscious minds are never allowed to be still. On average, people check their email more than 100 times a day. Around 75% of Americans use their phone in the bathroom, according to marketing company 11Mark, while one in four Brits let their device interrupt sex, as discovered in a poll by O2. Everyone walks down the street with their headphones on and waits at the bus stop boring into Buzzfeed or Bumble. Even as I write this article, I keep glancing at gifs from a friend sitting in the next room. As Chris says: “nobody is allowed to be bored, stare into space or waste time.”
Our brains are responding to this information overload by becoming extremely adept at filtering things in or out. Circadian neuroscience professor Russell Foster explains that the more you overload the brain, the more it starts to filter. We can see this illustrated by the way we use dating apps, where potential partners are rejected with a swipe in just a millisecond.
We are well rehearsed for this mental sorting process by our school systems, which prize rational thinking and academic ‘drill down’ above all else. “Kids are learning how to be super analytical and very profound in their ability to take things apart,” Chris says. “But they can be quite weak at lateral thinking, or looking across.” That’s because when our conscious mind is working like crazy, it can’t let go and our subconscious is blocked out.
“The question needs to be asked: is the iPhone there to serve us or are we there to serve it?”
Chris Lewis
With down time disappearing from daily routines, we are limiting the opportunity to have ideas to the tiny moments of the day when we are truly relaxed. This is why so many artists describe having epiphanies when they are in shower, for example. Chris implores, “the question needs to be asked, is the iPhone there to serve us or are we there to serve it?”
But realising a negative habit is the first step towards positive change and the fastest, simplest way to reclaim your creativity is simply to switch off your phone. “Don’t get into the habit of doing your emails while you’re waiting for somebody in a bar. Stop staring at your phone and stare into space. You might be hit with something far more valuable,” says Chris.
“Digital products are not necessarily designed with the users’ best interests at heart,” says Leah Palmer, resident psychology researcher at London-based wearables startup Vinaya. “They’re designed to keep us engaged so that we spend, and waste, a great amount of time using them, making them valuable for advertising.”
Vinaya’s wearable jewellery is designed to minimise the number of interruptions people receive from technology. The wristbands connect to your phone and vibrate to alert you only when an urgent notification or call comes through. “This gives people the ability to put their phone away and focus on whatever is in front of them, whether that’s a dinner date or a creative pursuit,” says Leah.
Creating the perfect conditions for creativity is all about reduction. Chris interviewed St Andrew’s University chaplain reverend Alasdair Coles, who finds himself dealing with an increasing number of students each year who are suffering from some kind of psychological disorder. The “iPhone generation” as Alasdair describes them, are excellent at communication but terrible at conversation. The clergyman has found the best way to get students to express themselves and open up is to create what he calls “a powerful space”. This is where all distractions, noise and objects are stripped away.
Alasdair believes that a lack of quiet space like this is causing creativity to suffer. This approach couldn’t be more at odds with many creative agency offices, cluttered with toys, beanbags or gaudy props in an attempt to inspire ideas. According to Chris, shaping a creative space is about taking things away, not adding them, “because creativity is all within”.
That’s not to say the perfect environment for idea generating is stagnant and sombre. “This process of creativity is supposed to be fun,” says Chris. Creative work becomes infinitely more enjoyable – and therefore more productive – if it takes place in an atmosphere free of judgement. “A friendly happy atmosphere is so important,” agrees Tony Brook from London-based Spin. “If you’re feeling happy and relaxed it’s much easier to access your thoughts.”
Having fun and cultivating a positive, creatively energised mind is also about spending time doing activities that you love. “We’ve got to allocate time to tasks that we really enjoy,” urges Chris. “It’s essential for our own sustainability and for reaching our potential, which doesn’t come by cramming more in, it comes from switching more off.”
One man who lives by this kind of thinking is Stefan Sagmeister of renowned New York design studio Sagmeister & Walsh. Every seven years, Stefan and the rest of his team close for business and take a year off to enjoy themselves and pursue personal projects. “These sabbaticals have had a giant influence on our regular work, not only were projects like Things I’ve Learned in my life or The Happy Show coming directly out of thoughts from the sabbatical, but they also largely influenced our client work,” says Stefan. “If you look at the commercial we did for Standard Chartered or some Aizone work, you’ll see it rather clearly."
Going beyond inspiring individual projects, the breaks have resulted in broader developments for the entire company. “I think of the studio as the first seven years, the second seven years and the third seven years,” explains Stefan. "They are quite distinct from each other because we always implemented big changes right after the sabbatical.”
“You can have good ideas in a creative brainstorm at work, but they’re different ideas to what you get at the deeper level,”
Chris Lewis
Of course, the same technology that interrupts also offers people more freedom as to where they can work. For example, following a period of down time spent in Australia, architect Piers Taylor left the Mitchell Taylor Workshop practice that he had co-founded in order to set up a very different kind of company. Invisible Studio rejects corporate architecture in favour of projects that Piers is passionate about and is not physically ‘based’ anywhere. Piers explains, “one of the reasons that we’re called Invisible Studio is that geographic locations are often meaningless – in my practice, we’re all citizens of the world.”
“I love my work, and technology is a tool that allows me to work on projects from wherever I am, whether that’s on the beach, at home, or in our studio in the middle of an ancient woodland,” says Piers. “We can invent our own routines, our own rhythms of work and life. Used wisely, technology can help us do this. It requires us to be disciplined about creating our own separation and barriers from the demands of clients and colleagues.” So our devices and the internet can be beneficial to creativity, so long as we are careful about how we use them.
Working cultures should place less emphasis on idea generation methods, as artistic genius needs stillness and space. “You can have good ideas in a creative brainstorm at work, but they’re different ideas to what you get at the deeper level,” says Chris. It’s not that the conscious brain can’t be creative, but that the ideas it comes up with will be more superficial. “You end with something that’s ephemeral and works today, but is not going to endure,” he explains. “We have to recognise that the profound epiphany, the ability to change the world in an idea, comes from people being switched off.” So turn off your phone, bin the bean bag, head for the hills and make history.
Too Fast To Think by Chris Lewis is published by Kogan Page.