The December issue of Art Antiquity and Law has now gone to press and will be available in a few days. We hope the slight delay can be forgiven because this is our 100th issue of the journal, which is surely worthy of celebration (even during these rather un-celebratory times). If you subscribe to the hard copy, please let us know if you are working from home and would like your copy sent there. If you are not already a subscriber, but would like to catch up on the various topics from all four of 2020’s issues, it’s not too late: subscribe here.
This issue contains articles on a range of topical issues, together with a case note and book reviews.
Paulo Bianco explains the growing importance of blockchain technology in the art world and discusses its potential application to authenticity disputes and the compilation of catalogues raisonnés. He considers whether the use of such technology could have prevented the fraud perpetrated by Drewe and Myatt or assisted the artist Peter Doig when he was required to prove that he was not the author of a contested work.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the question of removing and/or destroying statues to historical figures with links to slavery is a matter of concern and readers will recall our October 2020 issue where Alicia Dixon discussed the removal of such statues and monuments in the context of US law. In this issue, Richard Harwood QC OBE explains the current UK legislation governing such alterations: this is a subject to which we shall no doubt return in a future issue as the Government announced as we went to press that that an application for planning permission would now be required for the removal of all historic statues, plaques and other monuments. The policy would be to “retain and explain”, meaning historic statues will be removed only in the most exceptional circumstances.
The ongoing campaign for the return of artworks and other cultural objects taken by colonial powers in previous centuries is the focus for Professor Leora Bilsky who proposes a comparative framework in which she analyses the restitution campaign as outlined in the Sarr-Savoy Report and the Jewish restitution campaign of the 1940s seeking the return of books, archives and religious artefacts.
As our lives continue to be dominated by the Covid-19 virus, Kathryn Klokker examines how empty museums and streets coupled with reduced law-enforcement presence can create a situation in which theft of publicly owned art works is more likely to occur, echoing the prescient warning of Charles Hill in our December 2011 issue where he identified “a pattern during the past few decades for high and holy day trophy art crime, significantly at times when police resources are stretched.”
Readers of our Blog will be familiar with the lengthy dispute in Sotheby’s v. Weiss et al. concerning an alleged Old Master painting and the issue of the scope of the auction house guarantee. In this issue of the journal Emily Gould examines the various contractual relationships in this case in detail, and analyses the meaning to be given to the term ‘generally accepted view’ in the context of authenticity.
Finally, Simon Stokes reviews Art and Modern Copyright: The Contested Image by Elena Cooper, and Adrienne Bauer looks at Kultur Kunst Recht: Schweizerisches und Internationales Recht which is edited by Marc-André Renold, Peter Mosimann and Andrea Rascher.