Cultural Property Law on May 17, 2010: Three Picassos, Four Executions, and 14,000 Polaroids

Posted on May 17, 2010


As I prepare to go to Italy for the summer to take part in the Association of Research Into Crimes Against Art Masters Program in International Art Crime, updating the blog has fallen a bit by the wayside.  But the cultural property law world has hardly stopped turning.  In the news recently:

  • Following an attempted auction of a famous looted object, there’s been buzz questioning why a mere fraction of the Medici polaroids are available to the public;
  • Three men were arrested in the Pacific Northwest for an alleged art heist conspiracy which involved breaking into private homes to steal works by Renoir and Picasso, among others;
  • A Los Angeles art dealer who sold a fake Picasso for $2 million pled guilty to fraud in federal court;
  • A collector is suing Christie’s for negligence surrounding a mis-attribution of a painting to Leonardo Da Vinci which resulted in a $150 million increase in valuation;
  • China sentences 4 tomb robbers to death (wow!);
  • The United States returned pre-Columbian artifacts to El Salvador following a customs bust;
  • The Sydney Morning Herald has a thought-provoking opinion piece titled, “Super-rich robbing us of cultural heritage,” regarding the recent sale of Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for $106 million (and why not read Tom Flynn’s comments on the subject while you’re at it);
  • The Smithsonian has undertaken a major project to help Haiti recover and preserve cultural heritage at risk from hurricane damage; and
  • In nearby Colorado, a proposed uranium mine on land designated as cultural property faces obstacles.