by Stephen J. Goldberg Esq.
Balthus, Therese Dreaming, 1938.
Censorship of art must always bear a high burden—especially after an entire generation of work was nearly destroyed by the Nazis’ war on Modern Art (which they labeled “degenerate art”), involving confiscation of thousands of artworks, including those of Beckmann, Kirchner, and Picasso in the 1930s (which I have examined in a previous “Art Brief” column). Continue reading
Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500, oil on walnut, 25.8 x 19.2 in.
Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, was sold to a Saudi Arabian prince for $450 million (including fees) at Christie’s New York auction last November, smashing the previous art sale record by more than a factor of two. Christie’s placed it in the middle of a major contemporary art auction to ensure that the world’s richest buyers would take note. Continue reading
Mark Rothko, No. 36 (Black Stripe), 1958, from the collection of the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden.
Last year I was invited to view a controversial painting that the owner claimed to be a genuine Rothko he bought at a small LA auction many years ago. The painting was not officially included in the Rothko catalogue raisonné despite the fact that the owner discovered photos in the Rothko archive which seemed to prove its authenticity as an early work; his attempts to persuade the catalog’s author, David Anfam, were in vain. Rothko is a favorite artist and I’ve seen many of his works over the years at art museums and Rothko retrospectives, but it was difficult for me be sure that this painting was authentic. To my eyes it looked like a Rothko, but without inclusion in the Rothko catalog, it was not authenticated. Perhaps in the past it would have been possible to find an appraiser who would go out on limb, but today’s art world makes it more difficult to take a chance.
Chuck Close, Self-Portrait II, 2011, oil on canvas
In May of this year, headlines trumpeted that the contemporary art auctions in New York hit a new record of over $1.2 billion in sales for the major auction houses. There’s no doubt that a fair number of sellers of these marquee artworks were California residents. And that means that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions in those proceeds, were due to the artists under a little-known (and now challenged) California law. Even though these sales by California sellers were made in New York, the artists would have been entitled to a 5% royalty on the sales price under the California Resale Royalty Act (CRRA).