Authenticity and Leonardo

This season’s record-breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” at Christie’s reveals a great deal about the art market and raises many questions about the fluid nature of authenticity. Our founding partner wrote about the $450 million sale in an editorial in Live Science, available here.      

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Client Spotlight: Pegasus: The Orchestra

Amineddoleh & Associates’ client, Pegasus: The Orchestra, proudly debuted this past month with two triumphant premiere concerts, and has already been showcased by several news outlets for its musicians’ exceptional talent and the orchestra’s bold mission statement. The orchestra’s debut concert premiered on October 13, 2017 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City to sold out audiences. The evening featured pieces by Debussy, Komitas, Mendelssohn and an original work, Cras Es Noster (Tomorrow, Be Ours) by the Orchestra’s founder, artistic director and principal conductor, Karén Hakobyan. Original paintings by artist Hakob Hakobyan and Michael Aram’s Pegasus …

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Guest Post: Is Israel Still A “Collector’s Paradise”? The Ottoman Laws Until the Present

In light of stories coming out of Israel about the illicit antiquities trade, we are pleased to share a blog post by Alexia V. Ogden, a law student based in the UK. The Israeli state enacted the Antiquities Law of 1978 to crack down on the illicit trade of antiquities. Given the nature of the Palestine-Israeli conflict, cultural heritage sites across the area have suffered extensive looting. However, dating as far back as the second century, religious pilgrims have long been attracted to the Lands of the Bible and many were encouraged by religious officials to bring back relics (Kersel …

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Lebanese Antiquity Dispute Resolved

It was announced today that the case against the Beierwaltes was dropped today after it was agreed that an purportedly looted item would be repatriated to Lebanon. See the attached letter below. And for more information about the case, see last week’s blog entry. Congratulations on this important return! 2017-10-10 Letter t Judge FitzGerald w-attachments (1)

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Ownership Dispute of Lebanese Antiquity at the Met

Note: All of the information in this blog post is taken from a publicly filed document. No confidential or privileged information was used in preparing this post. On September 22, Matthew Bogdanos submitted an application in NY Supreme Court in a matter involving a stolen antiquity from Lebanon. I served as a cultural heritage law expert on this case. It was an honor to once again work with Bogdanos, a talented trial attorney. His track record for excellence is impressive, and the filing in this case is a tour de force of legal writing, reading like a suspenseful crime narrative …

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“Mysteries in The Museum: Crime And Deception in Art”

Learn more about high-profile art thefts and infamous forgeries in “Mysteries In The Museum: Crime And Deception In Art,” a WNPR episode from Sept. 8, 2017. The recording is available at http://wnpr.org/post/mysteries-museum-crime-and-deception-art  

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Celebrating Our First Anniversary

Amineddoleh & Associates LLC is pleased to celebrate its first anniversary. The litigation and transactional boutique law firm is recognized for its work in the areas of art, cultural heritage, and intellectual property law. Since our inception, we have been involved in numerous high-profile matters. The law firm’s founder Leila Amineddoleh served as a consultant to the Brooklyn United States Attorney’s Office in the civil case brought against Hobby Lobby (information about the case is available here and here), and likewise serves as a cultural heritage law expert to the New York District Attorney’s Office for antiquities investigations. In that …

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Seizure of 2,300-Year-Old Vessel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last night, Tom Mashberg of the NY Times broke the story about an ancient vase that was seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”). The 2,300-year-old object, the “Python Vessel,” had been displayed at the NY institution since 1989, when it was purchased from Sotheby’s for $90,000. Matthew Bogdanos, a celebrated and Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (as well as author and colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves), seized the work based on evidence that it was looted from Italy in the 1970s. He was presented with evidence from forensics archaeologist Christos …

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The Case Against Hobby Lobby

The owners of Hobby Lobby, a devoutly Christian company, have been profiled during the past few years for their questionable acquisitions of historic artifacts and the lack of reputable provenance research related to those items. The problems related to their purchases were publicly aired years ago, with evidence that the company acquires looted items from the Middle East. However, earlier this year, Hobby Lobby came under government scrutiny, leading to a civil forfeiture of thousands of artifacts. As an advocate for responsible acquisition practices, it was an honor to consult with the Eastern District of New York regarding national and international cultural heritage laws …

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Getty Villa Returns Statue to Italy

The Getty Villa has long been scrutinized for acquiring objects without complete provenance, in turn, supporting the market for looted antiquities. These questionable activities were the focus of Chasing Aphrodite. The book delves into the often hidden world of museum management, exposes some of the unethical practices of museum employees, and examines the purchase of looted items, including the famed Venus of Morgantina (perhaps actually a representation of Persephone) that was eventually returned to Sicily. During the past decade, the Getty has returned dozens of looted items to Mediterranean nations. In 2006, the museum returned or committed to return four looted …

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Amineddoleh & Assoc. at Cultural Heritage Preservation Law Conference

Join Amineddoleh & Associates LLC in Washington, DC next week as our founding partner, Leila Amineddoleh, will speak at the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law Conference hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Georgetown University Law Center. The event promises to be a great one, as the conference includes many experts in the heritage field. To attend the conference, register here: http://forum.savingplaces.org/learn/conferences-training/plt/law

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Repatriation of Ancient Artifacts to Italy

Yesterday Amineddoleh & Associates LLC had the honor of attending the repatriation ceremony for a collection of ancient artifacts returned to the Italian Republic. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. recognized the importance of returning antiquities and honoring their repatriation with a ceremony and press release. He noted that the trade in looted objects signals the willingness of collectors and institutions to condone this harmful practice, and that efforts should be made to halt the trade in looted works. The seized pieces were returned to the Consul General of Italy in New York, Francesco Genuardi who thanked the DA …

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Congratulations to Thirst Street!

CONGRATULATIONS to our clients, the director and producers of Thirst Street. The film follows the life of American flight attendant Gina (Lindsay Burdge) arriving at each new destination in a state of emotional paralysis following her lover’s suicide. She eventually snaps out of her funk when she meets the sophisticated and charming Parisian bartender Jerome (Damien Bonnard) and hastily moves to his home city. Blinded by unrequited love, Gina teeters on the edges of heartbreak and sanity when an old flame of Jerome’s suddenly reenters his life. The film received excellent reviews at its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival …

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Today’s Auction of Purportedly Looted Artifact Exceeds Expectations

Christie’s offered the rare opportunity to own “an iconic work of art from the 3rd millennium BC.” The auction house describes the truly exceptional object as follows: Standing 9 inches high, the Guennol Stargazer is one of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type — and will be offered in the Exceptional Sale on 28 April at Christie’s in New York. The Guennol Stargazer is from the Chalcolithic period, between 3000 and 2200 BC, and is considered to be one of the most impressive of its type known to exist. It is further distinguished by its exhibition history, having been on …

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Return of Roman Bust to Italy

I spend a great deal of my academic research, writing, and lecturing focused on the illicit market for looted antiquities. What often shocks me is the lack of due diligence by private buyers, and sometimes even public institutions. What’s more, insufficient diligence often reflects the lack of good faith on the part of the buyer. And even more than that, it’s shocking that buyers proceed with their purchases when common sense considerations suggest that a purchase is imprudent. Case in point: collectors who continue purchasing items from art dealers with poor reputations and histories of legal improprieties. I understand that …

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