Apollo Magazine

The week in art news – Supreme Court rules against Warhol Foundation in copyright lawsuit

Plus: five men sentenced for Dresden jewellery heist, Lisa Schiff reportedly shuts up shop after lawsuit, and the rest of the week’s top stories

Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph of Prince from 1981 and Andy Warhol’s silkscreen using Goldsmith’s photograph from 1984. Images from US Supreme Court documents

On Thursday (18 May), the US Supreme Court ruled against the Andy Warhol Foundation in a copyright lawsuit that could have much broader implications for the ways in which copyright law is applied in the United States. In 2016, the Warhol Foundation charged Condé Nast $10,250 to publish an image of Prince, which Warhol had created in 1984 based on a photographic portrait of the musician made three years earlier by Lynn Goldsmith. Warhol had created his series of 16 silkscreens after a commission by Vanity Fair, which paid Goldsmith $400 to license her portrait as an artist reference, agreeing to credit her and to use it only in connection with a single issue. The vote in Goldsmith’s favour was seven to two. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said the photographer’s ‘original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists.’

Five men have been given prison sentences for their role in the jewellery theft from the Green Vault in Dresden in 2019. An estimated €113m worth of jewels – part of the treasury amassed by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century – were stolen during a night-time raid. The defendants are all part of the Remmo crime family, one of the most notorious in Germany; each was sentenced to multiple years in prison, though four received lighter sentences owing to their partial confession and the return of some of the jewels. A sixth was acquitted; in December 2022, police said that they were investigating a possible seventh participant.

The New York art advisor Lisa Schiff has reportedly closed her business, SFA Advisory, after being hit with a lawsuit by two former clients. The real-estate heiress Candace Carmel Barasch and lawyer Richard Grossman filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court on 11 May claiming that Schiff failed to pay them $1.8m after brokering the sale of a painting by Adrian Ghenie at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. On Tuesday (16 May), ARTnews reported that the SFA gallery appeared to have been shut, while much of its website remains deactivated at the time of writing (19 May).

The worst flooding in a century has devastated the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, with 13 dead and more than 10,000 displaced at the time of writing. The extent of damage to historical monuments is not known, but the historic centres of towns including Bologna, Forlí and Ravenna have been largely submerged. In Ravenna, the archaeological museum has become an emergency shelter, while many museums have closed across the region.

The Codex Sassoon, believed to be the oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible in existence, broke the record price achieved by any manuscript at auction when it sold for $38.1m at Sotheby’s New York on Wednesday (17 May). It was acquired by the American diplomat Alfred H. Moses on behalf of the American Friends of ANU, which plans to donate it to the Museum of the Jewish People (ANU) in Tel Aviv. The record had previously been held by Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester manuscript, bought by Bill Gates for $30.8m in 1994.

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