It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings to the NLRB

They're ready to hang up the "Out of Business" sign on the door at the San Diego Opera.  Dwindling revenue, combined with rising costs, has just made it too unprofitable to keep going.  So says the opera's board, which voted to ring the curtain down for good.

But, wait -- there's yet another act.  The labor union that represents the singers and chorus members asked the National Labor Relations Board to request an injunction that would freeze the opera company’s assets long enough for union members with contracts to be paid.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the union is citing a portion of labor law that allows the NLRB to ask a federal judge for an injunction to protect contractual rights of workers.  The article says there could be close to a million dollars at stake cumulatively for about twenty-five artists.

The Gaugin by the Sink

When you mention hanging art in the kitchen, thoughts might immediately stray to tacking children's crayon drawings and water color pictures to the refrigerator with a magnet.  But one retired auto factory worker had paintings worth millions hanging in his kitchen.  He just didn't know it at the time.

A story in the New York Times reports that, in 1975, a man who worked for Fiat in Italy bought a couple of paintings for about $70 and hung them in his kitchen.  Turns out they were stolen masterpieces by Paul Gaugin and Pierre Bonnard.  The estimated value of the two paintings is upwards to more than $60 million.

The paintings were stolen from a London residence in 1970 but somehow ended up being abandoned in an Italian railroad, which, not knowing the pedigree of the works, sold them off for what might be considered pocket change.

The works were identified after the factory worker’s son saw a familiar image in a book of paintings by Paul Gauguin. That's when the family called experts who then contacted the Italian police.

Authorities are still trying to track down the heirs of the original owners to return the works.  If they can't find any, then they just might go back to the man with the exceptionally artistic kitchen.

He's Got Them on His List

It's a list of "undesirables."  At least, that's how a University of Georgia faculty member terms them.

David Lowery, who, in addition to being a mathematician, is also an alternative rocker, has compiled an "Undesirable Lyric Website List," which he says contains the Internet addresses of the top fifty websites that provide copyright infringing texts of song lyrics.  According to his written report, the sites on his list distribute the lyrics without having attained a license to do so.

According to Mr. Lowery's report, much of the public doesn't even realize that distributing unlicensed lyrics is even a violation of law.

Kosher Transaction or Forced Sale?

Did the Jewish art dealers who, in 1935, sold the Prussian state an ecclesiastical treasure from the Middle Ages do so under duress?  That's the issue a German mediation panel wrestled with.

Heirs of the businessmen say the jewel-encrusted silver and gold crucifixes, altars and other relics of the Guelph Treasure were purchased by the state at a time when Nazism was on the rise and Jews there were uncertain as to their future.  To their minds, the sale was made under duress, and the relics should be returned to the heirs.

However, according to an article in the New York Times, the panel's of the opinion that the sale price was in accordance with the appropriate value for the time.  So the panel doesn't see it as a forced sale and recommends the relics, valued in the neighborhood of a quarter-billion dollars, should stay with the state foundation.

According to the article, the panel's decision is not binding.  The heirs could still take the matter to court.

Guggenheim v. Guggenheim

Call it a family sqabble, if you will.  But heirs of art patron Peggy Guggenheim are suing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for what the plaintiffs say is a desecration of Ms. Guggenheim's contribution to the art world.

Ms. Guggenheim, who died in 1979, bequeathed to the Foundation her home in Venice, Italy, along with the substantial art collection she had there to be displayed on the site.  However, according to an article in the Art Newspaper, the Foundation accepted a large donation of art from German collectors and moved some of Ms. Guggenheim's collection into storage in order to make room for displaying the new works.

That crossed the line, at least as far as the plaintiffs are concerned, and they filed suit.