I recently tackled the public discussion in Germany about whether to rename the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, the foundation that oversees the State Museums of Berlin and some of the most remarkable collections in the world. Readers of the Art Law Report will know this name well, the SPK is the defendant in the lawsuit brought by my clients for the restitution of the Welfenschatz, or Guelphe Treasure, that the Supreme Court heard in 2020. While I've never been shy about criticizing the SPK about its approach in our our case (which is on appeal, briefs here and here), this piece addresses a different question. Namely, what place does the name "Prussia" have in the 21st century? For anyone like me who still thinks about the historical sliding doors of the Grossdeutschelösung and Kleindeutschelösungdebate of the 19th century about how to unite the German-speaking states and duchies, this piece is for you.
Holy Roman Empire,
Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz,
Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation,
C. Montgomery Burns,
Sigismund of Luxembourg,
Augustus II the Strong,
Few things have brought consensus recently more than the revulsion over the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, a Philadelphia native. Yet in a desire to distance itself from Cosby, the city may have crossed a First Amendment line when a well-known mural entitled “Father’s Day” that depicts Cosby was painted over. And even if the city did not run afoul of that constitutional protection, the artist of the mural may have had under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, 17 U.S.C. § 106A (VARA) rights too. Ultimately it will come down to whether the artist or artists object to the fact or the timing of the removal—an objection that would not necessarily be any endorsement or support of Cosby (or have anything at all to do with Cosby), but which might relate more to the right of expression.
Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990,
Philadelphia City Mural Arts Program,
University of Massachusetts,
17 U.S.C. § 106A,
The Washington Post,