Our second annual Berkeley Art, Finance, and Law Symposium will take place June 8th at SFMOMA, bringing together academics and professionals from a variety of backgrounds. The symposium will cover topics in the philosophy of art, copyright and provenance issues, developments in tech, and international fraud. Register now!

This month we highlight news on repatriation, education, legislation, artificial intelligence, and the importance of the art market in the U.S. economy.

Delia Violante
Berkeley Center for Law and Business
Lawrence Kushner - Afternoon in Sayulita, Mexico - 18x34 Oil on linen
Berkeley Law Faculty Corner

Provenance -- the history of ownership and possession -- is often critical to art and cultural property disputes in the US and abroad because provenance can materially inform the topics of ownership, authenticity, and valuation.  Evidence of theft, looting, and the unethical acquisition of cultural objects is frequently exposed by provenance research and analysis.  Carla Shapreau, who teaches art and cultural property law at Berkeley Law, analyzed with her French co-authors from the Musée de la musique, the role that historical archives play in investigating the provenance of rare instruments of the violin family. Their analysis appears in “Documenting the Violin Trade in Paris:  the Archives of Albert Caressa and Émile Français, 1930-1945,” Collecting and Provenance (2019), a Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative. Read more> 
AI Act: A Flagship Legislative Proposal

The EU lawmakers have reached an agreement and pushed to the next stage the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act, which would be the first set of comprehensive laws related to AI regulation. The report cited one significant last-minute change in the draft of the AI Act related to generative AI models, which “would have to be designed and developed in accordance with EU law and fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.” Euractiv - Read More>
NFT: A Landmark Trial

The first-ever insider trading trial on art. A former product manager at OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, has been accused by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office of violating confidentiality procedures in order to sell his collection at an inflated profit. The landmark trial raises big questions about the ethical guardrails in the cryptocurrency world and could permanently shift the popular understanding of “insider trading”. WSJ - Read More>
The Andy Warhol Copyright Case That Could Transform Generative AI

The US Supreme Court’s upcoming decision could shift the interpretation of fair use law—and all the people, and tools, that turn to it for protection. The US Copyright Office determined recently that art created solely by AI isn’t eligible for copyright protection. Artists can attempt to register works made with assistance from AI, but they must show significant "human authorship." WIRED - Read More>
Report Alert: The Weight of the Arts in the US Economy

According to the latest report issues by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the arts industry is booming like never before. In the past year alone, the arts made up over $1 trillion dollars of the United States economy, or almost 5% of the nation's GDP. These record high numbers provide promise for the future of an industry whose value is often underestimated by the financial sector, and opens up a number of doors for the future of the arts - especially after the industry was significantly harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More>
Report Alert: Artifacts Linked to Looting and Trafficking

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) recently reported how the Met - one of the world's great museums - has been under intense scrutiny in recent years, with accusations of stolen art and government seizures of illegally owned pieces. Now a new investigative report has revealed the scope of the issue within the famous museum's collection, tying over a thousand works to known and alleged looters and traffickers. This information raises even more questions about evolving ethics in the art world and the future of museums as we know them. Read more>
Venus: The Birth of a Virtual Influencer

The $10 million campaign, known as “Open to Meraviglia” (Open to Wonder), was launched by the ministry of tourism in partnership with the Italian National Tourist Board. Appearing in airports and cities internationally, the concept has mostly been met with derision by social media commentators, art critics, and even government officials. Will the campaign call into question the fair use of a famous image from Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (c. 1485), the trademark for which belongs to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence? NYTimes - Read More>
The San Francisco Art Institute Shuts Its Doors

The San Francisco Art Institute filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on April 19. The case is currently pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. At risk of liquidation are $65m worth of assets, including Diego Rivera’s mural, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931), reportedly worth $50m. Despite UC Regents purchase of $19.7m debt and fundraising efforts the Institute was forced to shut its doors after 150 years of operation. The Institute saw artistic giants walk through its halls as faculty and students, including Ansel Adams, Clifford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, Annie Leibovitz, Mark Rothko, and Okwui Enwezor. KQED - Read More>
Grant Alert: the 2023 Christie’s Grant for Nazi-Era Provenance Research

The 2023 Christie's Grant for Nazi-era Provenance Research provides the opportunity for three recipients to earn £5000 (6200 USD) for post-grad research into art history topics related to Nazi-era provenance. Christie's is a London-based auction house, and is at the center of the modern fine arts business. The grant is part of the Christie's Fund, which aims to support underrepresented voices in provenance research and support young academics in building their careers. Applications can be submitted anytime until May 31, 2023. Read More>
Michelangelo's David Wins Reprieve in Florida

Censorship is on the rise in Florida's schools, but the firing of a charter school principal over an art history lesson has caused uproar and pushback from the State's Department of Education. Michelangelo's David, deemed crude and inappropriate by some and culturally significant by others. Artnet - Read More>
The British Museum Holds the Line on Its Imperial Loot

As other institutions have begun the process of repatriating artifacts seized during the colonial age, the British Museum has steadfastly resisted. The Museum's loot includes several extremely sensitive pieces, including some of the most holy artifacts in Ethiopian Christianity and famed pieces such as the Parthenon Marbles and the Benin Bronzes. WSJ Read More>
Pre-Colombian Artifacts at the Center of a Dispute

An auction house in Paris and the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico have gone head to head over the fate of an assortment of historic artifacts. While the government has demanded repatriation on the grounds of cultural significance, the auction house has accused the Ministry of Culture of being politically opportunistic and obscuring the global value of the works. Hundreds of similar artifacts have been returned to Mexico within recent years, making the stand-off particularly surprising -- and potentially having a significant impact on future cases. ARTNews - Read More>
The Power of Icons as a Form to Denounce Systemic Violence

Kehinde Wiley has spent his painting career making portraits of everyday Black Americans, and is known for the vibrant backdrops he brings to all his pieces. In his latest exhibit, An Archaeology of Science, Wiley depicts the systemic violence to which Black people in America are subjected, using images of grief and historical figures to weave his narrative. The exhibit is currently on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. You can learn more in this PBS interview with Wiley.
The Duplication of Heroes and Monsters

A scandal at the Orlando Museum of Art has finally reached court, with an auctioneer from Los Angeles admitting to the creation and sale of between 20 and 30 fake works attributed to the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The elaborate fraud scandal has left many open questions, as several of those involved continue to insist the art pieces are authentic. NYTimes - Read more>
Artist Shaped by the Land

Native American artist and activist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, after working tirelessly to “break the buckskin ceiling,” landed at the Whitney with a retrospective that redefines what “American” means. NYTimes - Read more>
Who Gets to Rest in Peace?

Repatriation often extends beyond just art. Archaeological museums and the trade in artifacts also face a changing tide, and must confront the violence of the past in order to move into the future. In North Carolina, the sale of a 600 year old human skull has led to outcry from indigenous communities and raised new questions about the legality of such a market. Facing South - Read more>
Clash Between Climate Protesters and Degas

Climate protesters have vandalised the display case of Edgar Degas' Little Dancer sculpture at the National Gallery of Art museum in Washington, D.C. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has stated its opposition to all climate activism protests that vandalise art, saying protestors "severely underestimate the fragility" of works on show. ICOM said museums should be "key actors in initiating and supporting climate action". The Art Newspaper - Read More>
Ask DALL-E 2

AI art is taking over the internet. The new technology's impressive ability to create detailed and unique images on command has created a splash in the art world, leaving artists and enthusiasts to wonder how a computer program managed to become a primary competitor in the contemporary digital art scene. This article delves into the physics and computer science behind AI art, allowing for a better understanding of how these generators work -- and why they sometimes fail. WIRED - Read More>
AI Will Make Human Art More Valuable

in the wake of the AI boom, some worry that artificial intelligence will ruin the prospects of contemporary artists. Krzysztof Pelc believes the opposite, arguing that the existence of AI will help the natural trajectory of human-made art, shifting our perceptions of what we do and don't consider "valuable." WIRED - Read More>
Meet the Artist: Lawrence Kushner

Bay Area based artist Lawrence Kushner is also an ordained rabbi. He has authored over a dozen books on spirituality and Kabbalah and currently serves as the Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. Although Kushner has no formal art education, he has had the opportunity to learn from renowned artists such as Ezra Katz, Sandy Ostrow, and Verakeet Tongpaiboon. His work has been exhibited in galleries in the Bay area, and also hangs in the collection of the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University. He works exclusively in oils.

"In the imagery of the ancient Kabbalists, light is imprisoned in the gross matter of the world; in effect, this means, when the artist ‘gets it right,’ that primal light is revealed—a small part of the world has been freed, liberated, redeemed by the painted image!" Read More>
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