Looters Ahead

Otto Dix painting, sourced from WikiMedia

The trove of Nazi-era art of previously unregistered works by Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Max Liberman and Henri Matisse found in an apartment last March has presented some interesting legal questions.  There are a few layers of shady, potentially criminal, activity at work here, the initial Nazi-looting and then the dealings of the art dealer whose son’s apartment held the work.  Authorities and journalists have questioned the methods by which Hildebrand Gurlitt, a German art dealer, acquired the paintings throughout the 1930-40s.  Interesting twists are ahead as authorities attempt to determine who are the rightful owners of the works.

Banksy’s month long residency is over but the shenanigans and ensuing media coverage continues.  This time, three men were arrested after removing the “Banksy!” balloons from a building in LIC.  The piece was impounded and will stay in police custody until someone claims the balloon, legally.  Check out this article in which a bunch of art dealers and “Banksy specialists” try to convince the building owner to give it to them to sell.  The quotes from a deputy officer are particularly entertaining, at one point saying, “[w]e don’t have it as art…[w]e have it as balloons.”  I guess that puts an end to the ongoing dispute over whether Banksy has any artistic merit.  Not.

In 2010, Key West City Commission passed an ordinance requiring 1% of new and re-developments over $500,000 and $100,000, respectively, be put towards a fund for public art projects.  Passage of the ordinance coincided with the stagnation of the building market so very few funds were raised but things are looking up as there are a few substantial projects in the city’s pipeline.  The Commission has tweaked the ordinance so that developers are now able to choose the artist their contributions will fun. While part of me thinks this change defeats the purpose of the ordinance, my better half believes its a positive step in the right direction.

A Qatari poet was jailed for two years in solitary confinement for reciting a poem in support of the Arab uprisings on YouTube.  The poet was found guilty of “incitement to overthrow the Emir” last month and sentenced to life in prison.  Due to “irregularities” in the trail, the Criminal Court in Doha reduced his sentence to 15 years.  Upon the government’s attempt to reinstate the life sentence, the Court upheld the 15 year sentence.  For shame.


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