Art Law Decision: Ownership of Art

The New York State Court of Appeals issued its unanimous decision in Mirvish v. Mott, reversing the unanimous Appellate Division decision and agreeing with CL&M that CL&M client Canadian art collector and gallery owner David Mirvish is the true owner of a sculpture entitled The Cry by Jacques Lipchitz (cast 3 of 7). Specifically, the Court of Appeals held that Jacques Lipchitz’s widow, Yulla Lipchitz, made a valid gift to Mr. Mirvish’s predecessor-in-interest by delivering a handwritten, signed deed of gift attached to a photograph of the sculpture; that the donee’s possession of that deed of gift after Mrs. Lipchitz’s death created a presumption that it had actually been delivered and the gift thereby effected; and that summary judgment by the Surrogate’s Court had been appropriate. Partner Gary D. Sesser, counsel Ronald D. Spencer and associate Judith Wallace secured the return of the Jacques Lipchitz sculpture to its owner.

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