Authentication Lawsuit

Reuters has an interesting article on a lawsuit against Sotheby's  for pulling a piece that was disavowed by the living artist.  The article, especially if the work is valuable, states the artist should be contacted before the sale.

Just an interesting situation on authentication and the potential for lawsuits.

Reuters reports (the article, if you click through has links to the lawsuit)

As a general rule, it’s pretty important, when buying or selling work by a living artist, that the artist be reasonably happy about the deal. If the artist is dead, then you need to be on good terms with the estate. It’s a significant risk, in contemporary art, especially given the fact that artists, by their nature, can be mercurial and temperamental.

All of which is yet another reason why art isn’t a commodity which can simply be bought and sold at a market price. It’s always encrusted in various egos, none more than that of the artist. They might have sold the work, but it’s still theirs, on some level, and that does give them certain rights of authorship. The artist nearly always retains copyright in the work, for instance (which is why you’ll never see images of Richard Prince works from the mid-70s), and increasingly the institution of resale royalties is being enforced, at least in California and the UK.

Marc Jancou has no real excuse: he should have known, before consigning Noland’s work to a very public auction, if she was OK with that. It’s not like he’s some kind of art-world naïf. It’s very unclear what Noland did; Jancou’s suit says only that she “tortiously interfered with the consignment agreement by persuading Sotheby’s to breach the agreement by refusing to put the work up for auction”. Jancou does say — or at least imply — that even after Noland’s complaint there was no doubt as to the authenticity of the work; she doesn’t seem to have denied making it.

But the art world is a fuzzy place, and there can be a big difference between a work made by Cady Noland, on the one hand, and a Cady Noland work, on the other. And Jancou’s being incredibly disingenuous if he’s pretending he didn’t know that.
Source: Reuters 

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