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The National Education already own network presents a law in the news with Professor Joseph R. Julan associate dean of the University of Michigan Law School. The world of art is getting a good deal of attention these days. Attention That is from the legislator or and the lawyer. The reason the sale of works of art has never been such big business big business at least in the art world attracts speculators and speculators in turn become willing victims of the confidence game and a shortage of confidence men is yet to occur. Here's an example. Certainly uncommon because of the amount involved. The case of a Texas millionaire oilman of course who recently purchased some fifty eight paintings represented as originals. The price one million three hundred sixty two thousand seven hundred fifty dollars. The problem according to the American art dealers association 44 the paintings were not authentic. Lloyd Goodrich curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art has suggested that famous artists in the United States have had their names forged so often that in some
instances forged signed paintings outnumber the originals according to Goodrich. As soon as an artist's work reaches a certain monetary level the underworld of art gets busy. To provide a defense against this fine arts underworld the Whitney Museum has urged the establishing of a central bureau for the authentication of American Art. Apparently one of the reasons the business of art faking is doing well is well it's the old story of the reluctance of the victim to reveal the fact of his having been taken. Another is the problem inherent in proceeding against the seller either under the criminal statutes or under the civil law. A lawyer by the name of Scott Hodes a graduate of this law school by the way and now a practitioner in Chicago recently decried the failing of the law in protecting the integrity of the art transaction and urged the Illinois legislature to pass special legislation. He gives this example of the need. If one decides to proceed on the criminal statutes and let's say one is accused of a forgery and charged with larceny under false
pretenses The prosecutor must establish not only that the defendant said that he was offering an authentic Renoir But in addition that the defendant knew the work was not in fact a Renoir who was to say that the seller did not believe the object of the sale was in the original but simply was wrong in his belief. On the civil side assuming we leave the criminal law out of this dispute between buyer and seller the buyer may have an equally difficult time if he seeks a remedy against the seller for the wrong he believes he has suffered. If in fact his newly acquired work of art turns out to be a forgery Yes it's true that the state statute books do include a commercial code. This code provides that a statement of fact or promise of the seller relating to the goods in question creates an express warranty that the goods in our case a painting conform to the seller's affirmation of fact. The section of the code is somewhat diluted by a further provision of the law that a statement which purports to be merely the seller's opinion does not create a warranty or guarantee as the law now stands given the fact of life that only the artist
can really say a given work of art is his. The statement of a seller is more likely to be considered a statement of opinion and not a guarantee. Under this existing commercial law absent a guarantee of authenticity the buyer is left with his painting and perhaps frustration. Another sellers loophole exists under the commercial code which presently governs the transaction. The Renoir painting may in fact from a seller's perspective be a painting of that period rather than by that famous artist. New York recently sought to tighten up the law warranties in the sale of works of Fine Arts with an amendment to the business law of that state. The new law is based on the premise that in most cases the merchant sellers have a greater expertise than the buyer and therefore hold the seller responsible for any statements relevant to the authenticity of the work of art even if the statement purports to be merely the seller's opinion. The New York statute does not however govern dealings between two art merchants. The objective of the act is to ensure the inexperienced buyer that he does not pay a genuine price for a suit a work
of art. It has been suggested that the fluctuation in and the uncertainty of the prices of the major international currencies will encourage greater trade in fine art works. It would seem to follow that where there is a substantial market there is an equally substantial opportunity for the fraud in the unwary. The legislators of New York have already reacted with and placed a new law on the books to protect the buyer of works of art. Illinois is considering such legislation as is the Law Reform Commission of the state of Michigan. Other states will undoubtedly do the same. So if you're thinking of investing in some original paintings either be very careful or wait for reform in the laws relating to the sale of works of fine art. It's well underway. PROFESSOR JOSEPH R. Julan associate dean of the University of Michigan Law School as presented law in the news recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting services. This is the national educational radio network.
Law in the news
Art world and the law
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Program number 397 focuses on the art world and the law.
Series Description
This series focuses on current news stories that relate to the law.
Broadcast Date
Public Affairs
Politics and Government
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Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-35a-397 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:05:14
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Chicago: “Law in the news; Art world and the law,” 1969-01-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2023,
MLA: “Law in the news; Art world and the law.” 1969-01-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <>.
APA: Law in the news; Art world and the law. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from