April 7, 2014

PN Art Law Update: Legal battle between Artist and a Gallery: Who Owns the Art?

The parties' written agreement provided that the Gallery would act as the Artist's "exclusive agent" in matters relating to any future deal for the exhibition and sales of limited edition prints published exclusively by the Gallery during the term of the agreement. It was alleged that the agreement was modified orally in favor of the Gallery. Because the Gallery was acting with regard to the prints as Scher's "exclusive agent" a fiduciary relationship was created. This is important because as the Artist's fiduciary, the Gallery was obligated to disclose to her in plain terms all material facts within the scope of the agency, including any understanding the Gallery had, upon entering any future deals.

The Stendhal Gallery, Inc., was trying to claim that they owned 320 fine-art silk-screen prints made from the Artist's paintings that remained unsold upon the termination of their relationship.

Court Ruled: Artist, not Gallery, owns the prints; the Artist was entitled to full list price for all prints that the Gallery sold after the termination of the agreement, and all prints that were claimed to be missing or believed to have been disposed of through undocumented sales.

The full decision can be accessed at the following link: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2014/2014_02154.htm#1FN

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