The Fall season is upon us and it’s been a while since we apprised you of our more interesting cases and activities. Our firm has matured over the past five years into a sophisticated international practice, involved in all sectors of the art market, from Contemporary to Modern to Renaissance to Antiquity.

Litigation

  • Aboutaam v. L’Office fédérale de la culture de la Confédération Suisse et al., Case Number: 1:18-cv-08248-RA. We represent Hicham Aboutaam in his suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Swiss Federal Customs Administration and Canton of Geneva. Mr. Aboutaam owns $90 million in antiquities that have been “frozen” by the Swiss defendants in connection with their actions against Phoenix S.A., an antiquities gallery in Geneva owned by Mr. Aboutaam’s brother. Mr. Aboutaam seeks declaratory judgment that he has title to his property—to which no third party has asserted any claim—and judgment on claims of conversion and unjust enrichment against the defendants, who have expropriated his property without just compensation, in violation of Swiss and international law.
  • Beierwaltes v. L’Office fédérale de la culture de la Confédération Suisse et al., Case Number: 1:18-cv-0211-MSK-MEH. We are co-counsel to Lynda and William Beierwaltes, who are Colorado citizens. The Beierwaltes have consigned 18 antiquities worth $8 million to Phoenix in Geneva. The Beierwaltes’ property has also been “frozen” by the Swiss defendants. The Beierwaltes have commenced a parallel action in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, asserting causes of action against the defendants similar to those asserted by Mr. Aboutaam.
  • In re Marc Salz, etc. against Bellagio, LLC, et al. and Christies, Inc., et al., 2018 Slip Op 04965 [First Dep’t July 5, 2018]. In July 2018, the Appellate Division, First Department unanimously affirmed the Order of the New York County Surrogate’s Court granting our clients’ (Bellagio and MGM Resorts), motion to dismiss and denying the turnover petition of Marc Salz. Salz had claimed that Renoir’s La Balayeuse had been wrongfully removed from his father’s estate. The court held that Salz’s allegations were insufficient to show that his father owned La Balayeuse at the time of death and that the statute of limitations for fraud had run.

Disputes.

  • Representing leading collector in disputed insurance claim for damage to an important work by a well-known contemporary artist.
  • Represented major U.S. artist in a payment dispute.
  • Represented an important NY gallery on an authenticity claim.

Private Sales and Consignments.

  • Represented leading collector in consignment of important post-war painting to auction.
  • Represented leading gallery in private sale of important 20th century sculpture.
  • Represented leading gallery on private sale two important Greek and Roman sculptures.
  • Represented leading collector in private acquisition of Renaissance and Medieval manuscripts.

International Trade

  • We represented a leading dealer on penalties issued by Customs and Border Protection.
  • We represented a luxury brand on a seizure by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • We represented a major trade organization on changes to US import regulations.

Speaking Engagements; Awards.

  • Appraisers Association of America, National Conference, October 28 and 29, 2018. PML will be the Platinum Sponsor of the AAA’s 2018 National Conference. The AAA will confer its Directors Award on Michael McCullough and William Pearlstein. NATIONAL CONFERENCE.
  • Art Law Day, October 26, 2018. William Pearlstein will speak on the panel Helping Your Client Navigate Antiquities. ART LAW DAY.

Asian Markets.

  • Michael McCullough was a panelist at the Shanghai Dialogue Forum on August 9, 2018, hosted by Shanghai Free Trade Zone Culture Investment Company and China Association of Auctioneers. He spoke on new business models in the international art market, focusing on trading platforms Maecenas and MasterWorks, and the lending platform Art Money.
  • Michael McCullough was a keynote speaker at the Asia Art & Finance Forum (3rd Edition) in Shanghai on March 28, 2018. The theme of the conference was “Innovation and New Business Models in Art & Finance.” He presented a talk on potential regulation of the international art market in China, the U.S., and the U.K.