IFAR Journal

Volume 3, No. 1


An IFAR Evening--Art, Law, and Ethics: Theory and Practice
— Kirk Varnedoe
An edited transcript of Varnedoe’s talk about the contrasts between broad concepts of ethics and the day-to-day challenges faced by a museum covers topics such as the emergence of art law in the 1970s, the realities of an art museum, copyright issues concerning art images, the special challenges of contemporary art, museum liability, and art restitution

Updates & Newsbriefs: 3 Stolen Paintings Back at the de Young Museum After 21 Years
— Sharon Flescher
Three paintings stolen in 1978 from San Francisco’s de Young Museum, including one which was formerly believed to be Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Rabbi, were left at William Doyle Galleries in November, 1999 by the mysterious caller, who, a few days later, informed IFAR that he had acquired the paintings from the original thieves. IFAR and the ALR alerted the FBI.

A New Legal Twist in Art Authenticity Cases: The Lanham Act
— Franklin Feldman
The Lanham Act is invoked in the case of Boulé v. Hutton and Khidekel.

Book Review: Object ID: Guidelines for Making Records that Describe Art, Antiques, and Antiquities
— Marilyn Schmitt
Schmitt reviews the Getty publication resulting from a coordinated, international assault on art theft. The book is divided into two parts : the first part describes objects according to ten categories of information and the second part provides guidelines for photographing the features that distinguish similar objects from each other.

Updates & Newsbriefs: British and U.S. Museums List Works with Provenance Gaps for WWII Years
— Sharon Flescher
Twenty-three British museums and galleries listed 350 works of art with problematic provenance during the years 1933-45. This is a result of a 1998 decision by the National Museum Directors’ Conference (NMDC) to include museums in the search for art looted during the Holocaust. Inclusion on the list does not necessarily suggest the works were looted. American museums, following guidelines set by the American Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Association of Museums have also published their initial findings on their websites.

Original Intaglio Print or Photomechanical Copy?
— Maya Naunton
A discussion of sophisticated photomechanical processes, including heliogravure, which produce reproductions that are difficult to distinguish from original prints and that can fool unsuspecting collectors.

Updates & Newsbriefs: Lawsuit Against Pollock-Krasner Board Dismissed
— Sharon Flescher
NY State Supreme Court Justice Goodman dismisses a lawsuit against the Pollock-Krasner Authentication Board for failing to accept the painting Vertical Infinity as an authentic work by Jackson Pollock.

Updates & Newsbriefs: Dealer Takes Back Disputed O'Keeffe Drawings
— Sharon Flescher
Discussion of O’Keeffe drawings from the Kemper Museum excluded from new catalogue raisonné on O’Keeffe.

Updates & Newsbriefs: Rash of Thefts of Copernicus' Scientific Treatise
— Owen Gingerich
The author, a professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, reports that since 1989, seven copies of Copernicus’ Treatise, De Revolutionibus, have been stolen by thieves – probably part of a Russian crime ring. Dealers and librarians should now check “new” Copernicus books against Gingerich’s database.

Updates & Newsbriefs: Gold Phiale Returns to Italy
— Sharon Flescher
After a long legal battle, the so-called “Steinhardt” phiale, claimed by Italy and seized as “stolen property” from a New York collector purchaser, was returned to Italy on February 29, 2000. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Steinhardt’s appeal of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision.

Updates & Newsbriefs: 1980s Con Man, Charles Heller, Indicted for Art Fraud
— Sharon Flescher
The indictment claims that Heller, who has a long history of arrests for art theft and fraud, sold fake “William Aiken Walker” paintings and falsely represented a California estate.

Updates & Newsbriefs: New U.S. Import Restrictions on Art
— Sharon Flescher
Discusses new agreements under the Cultural Property Importation Act, including: emergency restrictions on Khmer stone from Cambodia; the five-year extension of the U.S.-El Salvador Agreement on Pre-Columbian Art; and requests from Bolivia and Italy.

Letter to the Editor. Re: IFAR article by Judith Bresler, “Expert Art Opinions and Liabilities.”
— E. V. Thaw
Thaw, President of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which was sued three times for its opinions on works of art, criticizes Bresler’s optimistic view that scholars and other experts have the legal protection to offer opinions. Thaw argues that more must be done to protect “freedom of scholarly opinion.”

Letter to the Editor. Re: IFAR article by Walter Feilchenfeldt, “Doctor Gachet–Friend of Cezanne and Van Gogh.”
— James G. Ravin, M.D.
Ravin comments that Feilchenfeldt was too harsh in regarding Gachet as negligent in not removing the bullet from Van Gogh’s body. Ravin proceeds to discuss the difficulty of such an operation in 1890.

Letter to the Editor. Re: IFAR article by Marilyn Schmitt, “Surfing the Web: An IFAR Perspective.”
— Patrick O’Keefe
O’Keefe, who established the Heritage Law Bibliography (HERB) in 1991, requests that the Heritage site be included under the “Art and the Law” section in a future IFAR update of relevant websites.

In Memoriam: Lawrence James Majewski
— Margaret Holben Ellis
The author, Chair of the Conservation Dept. of the Institute of Fine Art, NYU, and a member of IFAR’s Art Advisory Council, writes about her mentor, who held several prominent appointments in the fields of art and archaeology conservation, in addition to being the former Chair of the Conservation Center and a member of the IFAR Art Council.

Stolen Art Alert: Recovered Paintings
Paul Cézanne, Bouilloire et Fruits, c. 1890-94 (stolen in 1978, recovered in Europe with the help of the ALR in 1999); John Constable, two sketches for finished oil paintings: Dedham Mill and Lock, c.1810-15 and The Valley Farm, c.1835 (stolen from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1998; recovered in January 2000); Pablo Picasso, Christ of Montmartre, 1904 and Head of a Woman, 1906 (stolen from the Max Bollag Gallery in Zurich in 1991 and recovered in February 1992; stolen again from the gallery in October 1994 and recovered by the Swiss police in February 2000); Peter Paul Rubens, Man Wearing a Ruff (stolen in Belgium in June 1992, recovered by the FBI in New Jersey); Attrib. to Aert van der Neer, River Scene at Night; Anthonie de Lorme, Interior of the Church of St. Lawrence, Rotterdam; Follower of Rembrandt, Portrait of a Rabbi (stolen from the de Young Museum in San Francisco, 1978, recovered in New York in 1999).