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Case Summary

Johnson v. Smithsonian Inst.

Johnson v. Smithsonian Inst., 9 F. Supp. 2d 347 (S.D.N.Y. 1998), aff’d in part and rev’d in part, 189 F.3d 180 (2d Cir. 1999), dismissed, 80 F. Supp. 2d 197 (S.D.N.Y. 2000), aff’d, 4 Fed. Appx. 69 (2d Cir. 2001). 


In 1997, James H. Johnson, the nephew of the American artist William H. Johnson, brought suit against the Smithsonian Institution and a New York gallery to regain artwork from his uncle’s estate. The artist had been declared incompetent in 1947 and committed to a New York mental institution until his death in 1970. In 1956, the committee appointed to oversee his affairs obtained a court order allowing it to abandon the collection. The collection was transferred to . . . .

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