Dear Delia,

2023 was a banner year for the Art, Law, and Finance Project. We hosted our second annual symposium, hosted well-attended art law talks on campus, celebrated the first anniversary of Canvas, inaugurated our website, and much more. Now we look to 2024 with anticipation and equal enthusiasm.

On Thursday, February 8th, in collaboration with Christie’s, we’ll be hosting a special event on Restitution of Nazi Confiscated Art. Speakers will include Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, Global Head of Restitution at Christie's; John Alexander, Director at BAMPFA; Sharon Cohen Levin, Partner at Sullivan & Cromwell; and Carla Shapreau, Lecturer at UC Berkeley. Due to space, this event is by invitation-only. If you are interested in attending, get in touch with us.

We are finalizing the date for the Third Annual Art, Law, and Finance Symposium. Confirmed speakers are: Berkeley Law's Dean Erwin Chemerinsky who will discuss the First Amendment and freedom of speech in the Arts; and Consul Mr. Socrates Sourvinos, Consulate General of Greece in San Francisco who will share his perspective on issues of restitution and cultural heritage. In the meantime, I encourage you to watch the video recordings of the 2023 Symposium and our promo teaser.

This month we highlight news on current market trends, the loss of cultural heritage in a time of war, the EU’s landmark AI Act, and more.

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2024.

Delia Violante

Berkeley Center for Law and Business

Jane Hambleton - hair carry. Graphite, acrylic gel medium, acrylics and oils on multiple wood panels 48"h x 32"w

Academic Corner

In The Constitutional Irrelevance of Art, UC Davis Law Professor Brian Soucek argues that whether or not expression can be considered “art” has never been relevant in the US Supreme Court’s analysis of First Amendment protection of that expression. This is true not just in “same-sex wedding” cases such as Masterpiece Cakeshop and its kin, but also in areas ranging from tax and tort, to employment and contracting discrimination, trademark, land use, and criminal law. The argument that expression is protected because it is artistic in nature can never succeed, and distracts from more important issues such as the medium in which that expression occurs. North Carolina Law Review

Michelangelo’s David in Florida and in Florence

In an article at Aedon, Felicia Caponigri, Guest Scholar at the IMT School for Advanced Studies in Lucca, uses Michelangelo’s David to examine differences between Italy and the United States in how works of "serious artistic interest" may be limited in their use or display. Read more>

AI Act Compromise Moves EU Closer to AI Regulation

The Council of the European Union, the European Commission, and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act, a sweeping legal framework to govern the development, marketing, and use of artificial intelligence in the European Union. European Counsel of the EU

Artists Submit Amended Complaint in AI Lawsuit

A group of visual artists has submitted an amended complaint in their copyright lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and other companies over claims that their work is being used to train generative artificial intelligence systems. Reuters

US Action on Copyright and AI

President Biden has issued an executive order asking the US Copyright Office to issue recommendations on the scope of protection for works used in AI training. This should give artists clarity on what they can do to protect their works. ArsTechnica

Seized Artwork Returned to Greece

Thirty artifacts have been repatriated to Greece, including a Corinthian Helmet and a statue of Aphrodite. The items were recovered by the US Department of Homeland Security and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Artnet

Antiquities Trafficking Charges Against Louvre Director

In a case involving the sale of allegedly looted Egyptian art, charges against the former curator of the Louvre Abu Dhabi were dropped on procedural grounds. The indictment of the former president-director of the Louvre in Paris was upheld. The Art Newspaper

Report Alert: Deloitte Art and Finance Report 2023

Key insights from the Deloitte Art & Finance Report 2023 released this fall reveal a dynamic shift in perspectives among wealth managers, collectors, and art professionals. In particular, there has been an increased interest in fractional ownership, especially among younger collectors. Deloitte

Ethical Dilemma at the British Museum

The trustees of the British Museum agreed to accept a £50m sponsorship from BP despite ethical and security misgivings. The BP money will kickstart fundraising for the museum’s ambitious master plan. The Art Newspaper

The Met Returns Artwork to Cambodia

More than a dozen antiquities tied to looting in Cambodia will be returned to the country under an agreement between prosecutors in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. CBS News

New Federal Rules on Repatriations of Native Remains

New Interior Department regulations on the repatriation of Indigenous American remains and burial items require greater deference to indigenous communities’ knowledge of their own religions and histories. ProPublica

UC Berkeley to Return Human Remains

The University of California, Berkeley, took a significant step this week toward repatriating nearly half of the 9,000 Indigenous American remains it holds in its anthropology museum, saying they do not belong on its campus and should be returned to Indigenous people. ProPublica

War's Toll on Art

After the Hamas attack on October 7, curators in Israel raced to lock up their most precious museum pieces in safe bunkers. In Gaza, the fighting has caused damage to more than 100 cultural landmarks. NPR

NY Art Market: A Dip, a Trough, or Just a Blip?

While some risk was offloaded to third-party guarantors at the November series, and sales hit estimates, Sotheby’s saw a loss on a Rothko and seemingly the Fisher Landau collection. New York Times

Linking Databases To Detect Looted Art

To know whether a person in a provenance is a Holocaust victim, a looting Red Flag name, a Nazi party member, or a persecuted person, a Sparql query in Wikidata can help. Open Art Data

U.S. Signs A New Cultural Property Agreement

U.S. and Uzbekistan signed a new cultural property agreement. This agreement commits the two countries to strengthening the fight against the illicit trade of cultural heritage. U.S. Department of State

Roman Emperor Reclassified as Transgender

The North Hertfordshire Museum will change the set of pronouns used to refer to Elagabalus based on classical texts where the Roman Emperor asked to be called “Lady”. The decision follows long-standing academic interest in Elagabalus's gender identity. The Art Newspaper

Sunken Treasure Off the Coast of Colombia

A shipwreck off the coast of Colombia may hold $20 billion worth of treasure. The country's president is eager to recover the ship and its booty, and promises to build a museum for it in Cartagena. Artnet

Diego Rivera Mural at the Center of a Legal Dispute

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is now facing a countersuit filed by City College, a public community college, as the two institutions battle over who should pay for the return to the school of a 30-ton Diego Rivera mural, known as Pan American Unity, that was loaned to the museum. Artnet

Nine-year Legal Feud Comes to an End

An epic legal battle, which played out in courts around the world and mesmerised the art world for almost a decade, is finally over. Rybolovlev had accused Bouvier of swindling him out of €1.1bn from the €2bn sale of 38 works of art between 2003 and 2014. The Art Newspaper

The de Young Open 2023

With 7,766 artworks submitted and 883 selected as finalists to be displayed, the de Young Museum has turned its prime gallery space into a showcase for local artists. “The de Young Open holds up a mirror to Bay Area artists and their concerns, whether their issues are immigration, Ukraine, Black Lives Matter, Jan. 6th and election deniers, or people who are unhoused,” said the curator in charge. The New York Times

Meet the Artist: Jane Hambleton

Jane Hambleton is a Berkeley based artist who works in multiple mediums with an emphasis on graphite drawing. Her work spans the world of drawing, collage and painting. Focusing on the natural world around us, her highly detailed pieces explore the ephemerality of life asking us to pause, be present and look more deeply. In the last two years she has shifted mediums and themes and is currently working on a new series for her fall 2024 show at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California. Learn more>

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