The New York State Senate today approved legislation (S1229A) sponsored by Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) Chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, that provides better legal protection for art authenticators who have increasingly been the victims of frivolous and costly lawsuits.
“Our art galleries and museums are an integral part of a successful tourism industry throughout New York State,” said Senator Little. “A key component of the industry are highly skilled experts who provide opinions about the authenticity of works of art.
“Art authenticators are critical to preventing art forgery and fraud. However, very expensive lawsuits have deterred these experts from rendering their opinions to the point of disrupting commerce. The point of this legislation is to establish protections under the law to ensure that only valid, verifiable claims against authenticators are allowed to proceed in civil court.”
The bill creates the legal definition of an art authenticator as “a person or entity recognized in the visual arts community as having expertise regarding the artist, work of fine art, or visual art multiple, or a person or entity recognized in the visual arts or scientific community as having expertise in uncovering facts that serve as a direct basis, in whole or in part, for an opinion as to the authenticity, attribution or authorship of a work of fine art or visual art multiple.”
The definition also includes authors of catalogues raisonné or other scholarly texts in which an opinion as to the authenticity, attribution or authorship of a work of fine art or visual art multiple is expressed or implied. It also expressly excludes anyone with a financial interest in the work of fine art or visual art multiple that is being evaluated, other than to be compensated for services in providing an opinion of authenticity.
The bill includes provisions that would ensure that only valid, verifiable claims against authenticators are allowed to proceed in court and addresses the recovery of attorneys’ fees and expenses.
Little said, due to litigation, the well-known Pollock-Kranser Foundation and Andy Warhol Foundation art authentication boards have stopped providing certificates or opinions on authenticity.
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Guggenheim, International Society of Appraisers, New York City Bar Association and the “Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section” of the New York State Bar Association support passage of the legislation.
The bill was forwarded to the State Assembly where companion legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.