The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that plaintiffs-appellees’ temporary artwork had achieved appropriate stature to be protected by the rarely invoked Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), and that an award of statutory damages was warranted for defendants-appellants’ willful unlawful actions. Jonathan Cohen, et al. v. G&M Realty L.P., et al., Case Nos. 18-498, -538 (2nd Cir. Feb. 20, 2020) (Parker, J).

VARA established a structure of moral rights that gives the author of a work of visual art the right to “prevent any destruction of a work of recognized stature,” and provides that “any intentional or grossly negligent destruction of that work is a violation” of VARA. The act also contains specific language prohibiting the removal or destruction of artwork incorporated into a building absent certain written waivers or notice provisions, which are detailed in the statute.


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