Stormtrooper ‘Art Wars’ triggers lawsuits

Several artists, including some well-known names, are considering lawsuits against London-based curator and artist, Ben Moore. They say Moore created a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) collection attached to their works without owning their copyright or a license to create additional works from their original designs. The “Art Wars” collection is an online project featuring 1,138 NFTs, including about 100 made from photographs of Stormtrooper helmets. These were originally designed by artists such as Anish Kapoor and Jake & Dinos Chapman for a separate, charitable project that was shown at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2013.

Since November 6, sales from the NFT collection have earned more than 1,600 ETH (approximately £ 5 million) on the OpenSea platform, according to Jon Sharples, an associate at Canvas Art Law, which represents a number of the artists.

“In the short term, it does not seem to say that NFTs represent a kind of gray area where the existing rules do not apply. “This is the first episode that involves a number of high-profile artists from the modern art world who have their works linked to NFTs without their permission,” says Sharples.

Ben Moore says he “regrets that some of the artists were taken by surprise” by the online launch and that he has since removed works at their request. All participating artists must receive royalties on relevant sales, he adds. In the last few weeks, he says, “It’s been like diving into a world I’ve never been a part of before. The NFT and crypto universe is a different landscape.” At the time of writing, the entire Art Wars collection had been removed from OpenSea.

This month’s megawatts auctions in New York put total public sales in 2021 on the road to almost doubling compared to last year’s hampered results, finds Christine Bourron, CEO of the art market analysis firm, Pi-eX. Sales from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips currently run at $ 10.8 billion for the year to date, compared to $ 5.8 billion for the same period last year, Bourron finds. Single-owner collections, especially November’s offerings from the divorced Macklowes at Sotheby’s and the works of the late Texas oilman Edwin Cox at Christie’s, have proven dominant as sellers who sat on their hands in 2020 pulled the trigger this year. A separate report from ArtTactic states that the sale of individual owners has accounted for a record high 20 percent ($ 2.2 billion) of the auction value so far this year, with the Macklowe and Cox auctions taking $ 1 billion.

‘No Bare Back, after Embah’ (2017) by Lisa Brice

The primary market held back by their gallery owners will also find their audience at the evening auctions: Lisa Brice’s “No Bare Back, after Embah” (2017), sold for $ 2.6 million. Sotheby’s sale of newly made art on November 18th.

The number of tickets has been significantly reduced since 2007, Pi-eX notes, as auction houses are chasing the trophy items at all costs. Todd Levin, New York’s art consultant, says that “Macklowe threw a turbo charge into this season and there’s more on the way in May. sees art as an asset to buy, hold and be involved in. “

The disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick, who was arrested as a refugee on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific in June 2020, has pleaded guilty to defrauding buyers and investors of more than $ 86 million. His many years of “material misrepresentation” included forged contracts, one of which named a stolen identity as the seller of a work, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Philbrick’s fraud took in paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool and Rudolf Stingel, its statement said.

Philbrick risks a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced next year, but his lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, says he is “hoping Inigo gets a lesser sentence.” About his client, Lichtman says he “has a long way to go to regain the trust of those around him, but he is very sincere in his remorse… He acknowledges that his behavior was foolish, immature, but most importantly “criminal. He will spend the rest of his life paying back his victims and becoming a productive member of society.”

Christine Messineo, newly appointed director of Frieze LA and Frieze New York

Frieze has appointed Christine Messineo to run her American trade fairs in Los Angeles and New York, replacing Rebecca Ann Siegel, who left in July 2021. Messineo has worked in galleries everywhere – as a partner at Bortolami Gallery in Manhattan and as director of Hannah Hoffman gallery in LA. Most recently, Messineo co-founded the high-profile Plan Your Vote initiative with to encourage participation in the 2020 U.S. general election through the galvanization of works of art. She officially kicks off next week when she, along with Frieze’s newly appointed Seoul Fair Director, Patrick Lee, will visit the Art Basel Miami Fair (December 2-4). Art Basel itself has yet to find a replacement for its US director, Noah Horowitz, who also left this summer. A spokesman said: “Art Basel is actively recruiting a new Director Americas; this is an ongoing process and details will be announced in due course.”

Portrait of Catherine the Great by Dmitry Levitsky

As the pressure to persuade the public to be affected by Covid-19 intensifies, MacDougall’s – a specialist in Russian art – offers a 1787 letter from Catherine the Great calling for smallpox vaccinations. “Such grafting should be commonplace everywhere,” she wrote to her governor-general, Count Piotr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev, to avoid “major damage.” The Empress had first-hand experience with the smallpox – her future husband got the virus just before they got married and became permanently disfigured. The letter will be auctioned along with a portrait of Catherine II by Dmitry Levitsky, probably painted during her reign (1762-1796), both from the same Russian collection, for between £ 800,000 and £ 1.2 million. at MacDougall’s in London on December 1st. Highlights from the sale, including the portrait and the letter, can be seen at the Zubov House in Moscow until November 30.

‘The Auction’ (1958) by LS Lowry

Sotheby’s London had the sale of the only known painting of an auction room by the beloved British painter LS Lowry, which was sold for 2.1 million. While life mimicked art, it was very different since Lowry painted the busy “Auction” in 1958. There were no strollers or high-stacked paintings in the slick 2021 showroom, where most of the buzz was over the phone or online. The work was one of five Lowrys sold at Sotheby’s Modern British & Irish art sale on 23 November. This also offered Elisabeth Frank’s “Head” (1967), sold by fashion designer Mary Quant for an estimated £ 75,000 (£ 94,500 with fees).

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