Early last week the online auctioneer Paddle 8 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York, on the heels of a recent lawsuit demanding payment for works of art sold at a charitable auction last November. While the Paddle 8 bankruptcy seems to have been driven by business conditions long before the complete upheaval of the art and business world due to COVID19, it is all but certain now that the cascading closures of businesses large and small for the foreseeable future will bring a wave of bankruptcies in the months and year to come. As such, taking a closer look at the Paddle 8 situation can be instructive for art market participants of all sorts, particularly with respect to the consignment and sale of art. Put simply, most businesses are going to need to think very soon about their roles as creditors who are owed some good or service, in the hopes of avoiding becoming debtors who need the help of bankruptcy laws to reorganize or stave off liquidation.
Topics: Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy Code, Bankruptcy Court, consignor, U.C.C.-1 statement, New York Arts & Cultural Affairs Law, Salander O'Reilly, ArtNet, Force majeure, coronavirus, COVID-19, Chapter 11, Paddle 8, Auctionata AG, online auction, Tom Otterness, Valentine Uhovski, Rameshkumar Ganeshan, 11 U.S.C. § 541(b)(1), 11 U.S.C. § 362(a), Penumbra, G.L. c. 104A, § 2, John Ahearn, Kiki Smith, Jonas Mekas, Jim Jarmusch, Walter Robinson, Michael McClellan, security interest, N.Y. Arts & Cult. Affairs Law § 12.01, automatic stay, Acts of God, Paper Chase
Last year’s biggest art law story was, in our view the Detroit bankruptcy. Nathan Bomey, who along with Mark Stryker formed the essential reporter team on up-to-the-minute updates on the proceedings, interviewed Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in the Detroit Free Press. The interview speaks for itself, but the highlights to me were:
Topics: Judge Rosen, Mark Stryker, Chapter 9, Syncora Capital, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., Judge Rhodes, Christie's, valuation, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Nathan Bomey, Detroit Free Press, Museums, Detroit Bankruptcy, grand bargain
As the ball teeters above Times Square, and the Glühwein begins to mull on the Art Law Report stove (don’t forget the cinnamon!), a gimmicky but apropos act of reflection is to look back at the biggest stories of 2014, both in art law generally and for yours truly and Sullivan & Worcester LLP. In highly subjective, unverifiable, and immediately criticizeable order, here they are. Thanks as always for reading, and best wishes for in interesting, prosperous New Year. If you agree, disagree, or otherwise, please continue to stay in touch and carry the conversation forward.
Topics: Comedy Central, Deaccession, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Charitable Foundations, National Gallery of Art, Knoedler, Cornelius Gurlitt, Blogs, authentication, authenticity, parody, William Corcoran, Moral Rights, Above the Law, Germany, George Washington University, Glühwein, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Norton Simon, Graffiti Art, Superior Court, Cy Pres, Washington DC, VARA, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Dumb Starbucks, Preemption, Asher Edelman, DIA, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Artmentum GmbH, Bavaria, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, World War II, Copyright, Times Square, Art Fairs, Kunstmuseum Bern, Corcoran Gallery, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Museums, Raubkunst, Detroit Bankruptcy, Fair Use, Münchner Kunstfund, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity, Graffiti, Civil Forfeiture, Art Law Report
Judge Rhodes has approved the plan of adjustment for Detroit to emerge from bankruptcy. More analysis to come, but most critically for our purposes it affirms the Grand Bargain and the security of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. We'll post the full opinion when it's published, but notably, Nathan Bomey at the Detroit Free Press reported from the courtroom that Judge Rhodes praised the decision not to sell the DIA collection: "Maintaining the art at the DIA is critical to maintaining the feasibility of the city's plan of adjustment and the city's future."
Throughout the Detroit bankruptcy and the attendant speculation about what role, if any, the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts that is owned by the city should play, a parallel parlor game has been to try to guess what Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s endgame and motivation really was. He has dropped hints about the importance of the collection in helping the city emerge from bankruptcy, but his plan of adjustment did not include any sales or loans with the collection as art. Rather, it included what has come to be called the “Grand Bargain,” under which several foundations will pledge hundreds of millions of dollars (as will the State of Michigan) to keep the art safe from liquidation.
Topics: Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation, Chapter 9, Syncora Capital, FGIC, Judge Steven Rhodes, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Nathan Bomey, Kevyn Orr, Litigation, Detroit Free Press, Museums, Detroit Bankruptcy, grand bargain
After Syncora Capital settled its objections to the Detroit bankruptcy plan of adjustment, it looked like the battle over the Detroit Institute of Arts collection would subside. Not so fast, it turns out. A major contest looms next week with a remaining creditor, Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation, over the valuation of the collection. Just to recap, the creditors (including both Syncora and FGIC) submitted a valuation of the entire DIA collection that put the value between $8 billion, performed by Victor Wiener Associates, while DIA and the city advanced an appraisal by Artvest Partners and Michael Plummer (who testified last week) putting it at closer to $2.4 billion (after an initial appraisal by Christie's of only part of the collection).
Topics: Chapter 9, Syncora Capital, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., Judge Rhodes, Christie's, valuation, Appraisal, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Detroit Free Press, Museums, Detroit Bankruptcy, grand bargain
After months of bitter fighting over the so-called Grand Bargain to infuse the Detroit bankruptcy with hundreds of millions of dollars from (among others) the State of Michigan, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Kresge Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the McGregor Fund, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to keep the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts out of discussion for any sale or use as collateral, the Grand Bargain’s fiercest opponent has announced an agreement with the city and the withdrawal of its opposition to the plan of adjustment. This does not completely put an end to discussion about the role of the DIA collection, but for all intents and purposes it will likely be the last of any proposal to collateralize or sell the artwork. The episode also provides a lesson to practitioners about the cost of overzealousness.
Topics: the Ford Foundation, Chapter 9, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Syncora Capital, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., Judge Rhodes, Christie's, valuation, Appraisal, Detroit, the McGregor Fund, Eugene Driker, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Gerald Rosen, the Kresge Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, eligibility, Detroit Bankruptcy, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, grand bargain
The Supreme Judicial Court, the high court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has answered a certified question from the Bankruptcy Court about the interpretation of Massachusetts’s fine art consignment law, G.L. c. 104A. The case, Eve Plumb et al. v. Debra Casey, SJC-11519, originated with an art dealer’s bankruptcy and the claim by the trustee in that bankruptcy that the artwork in the dealer’s possession belonged to that bankrupt dealer, not the artists. The SJC has interpreted the 2006 amendments to the law for the first time and clarified the roles of everyone involved. In full disclosure, I did some work for two of the artists (Dylan Stark and Robert Stark) at an early phase of the Bankruptcy Court proceedings. Eve Plumb, now an artist but also well known as the actress who played Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch, was another of the artist-claimants. In sum, once an artist delivers a work of art for sale for the purpose of exhibition or sale, it is a consignment, and the seller/consignee holds it in trust for the artist, regardless of the consignee’s own circumstances.
Topics: Legislation, consignment, United States Supreme Court, The Brady Bunch, Jan Brady, Allyson Wynne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Debora Casey, Supreme Judicial Court, SJC, Bankruptcy, Wynne Fine Art Inc., Eve Plumb, Bankruptcy Court, consignor, G.L. c. 104A § 2, Kenneth Wynne III, G.L. c. 104A § 1, U.C.C.-1 statement, U.C.C. Secretary of State, Chatham, Chapter 7, Uniform Commercial Code, certified question, Dylan Stark, Robert Stark, Eve Plumb et al. v. Debra Casey, Jim Grace, SJC-11519, Arts and Business Council
Weeks after the city of Detroit released its valuation expert report on the value of the full collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts by Artvest Partners, creditors opposed to the city’s plan of adjustment and the “Grand Bargain” within it have released their own appraisal. Not surprisingly, it asserts a significantly higher value of roughly $8.5 billion, more than double the estimate in the city’s report. New York’s Victor Wiener Associates (VWA) has apparently compiled a 50-page appraisal on behalf of Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have received copies, none are publicly available of which I’m aware).
After Judge Rhodes denied (as predicted) the expansive relief requested by creditors in the Detroit bankruptcy to perform a top-to-bottom appraisal of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, attention has focused on those creditors’ objection to the “grand bargain” within the overall plan of adjustment. The creditors (and some academics) have argued that the grand bargain is a “preferential transfer,” that it puts some creditors (pension holders) in a better position than other creditors (lenders, in particular) in violation of bankruptcy principles.
Topics: Old Master, Deaccession, the Ford Foundation, Mark Stryker, Chapter 9, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, 11 U.S.C. § 904, Impressionism, Amedeo Modigliani, Michelangelo, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, Judge Rhodes, Christie's, valuation, Scheme for the Decoration of the Ceiling of the Si, Appraisal, Modernist Art, Detroit, the McGregor Fund, Eugene Driker, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Gerald Rosen, the Kresge Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Detroit Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr, Detroit Free Press, eligibility, Detroit Bankruptcy, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan