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Crime & Litigation



Federal judge to decide fate of Elvis' acoustic guitar

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Written by REGINA GARCIA CANO, Associated Press   
Monday, 04 August 2014 10:20
An Elvis tribute poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Heritage Auctions. SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A man who donated to a South Dakota museum a slightly damaged acoustic guitar played by Elvis Presley that is at the center of a custody battle insisted Thursday he had the right to give it away because he owned it.

The instrument's fate is now in the hands of a federal judge in South Dakota tasked with determining whether blues guitarist Robert A. Johnson owned the guitar when he donated it to the National Music Museum last year along with a guitar made for Johnny Cash, one of Bob Dylan's harmonicas and other objects.

The museum, located in Vermillion, S.D., insisted in a federal lawsuit that it is the legal owner of the broken Martin D-35, which “The King” played during his 1977 tour and gave to a fan in St. Petersburg, Fla., after a strap and string snapped. But collector Larry Moss argues that Johnson agreed to sell the guitar to him before it was donated.

Johnson and Moss, both of whom live in Memphis, Tenn., are each listed as defendants in the museum's complaint.

Moss had the opportunity to buy the guitar in 2007 but did not pay for it in full, Johnson told the Associated Press Thursday.

“Since Larry Moss never paid for the guitar, I had the right to donate the guitar.”

A payment agreement dated in 2008 shows that Moss agreed to pay Johnson $120,000 for various guitars including the one in dispute. The agreement is part of the exhibits filed in a libel and defamation lawsuit that Johnson initiated against Moss in state court in Tennessee in January.

The court records also include a check Moss wrote to Johnson for $70,000 in connection with the payment agreement, as well as an email Moss sent to the museum in December 2013 claiming ownership.

Federal court records show Johnson has not responded to the lawsuit in South Dakota as of Thursday. Johnson's attorney did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

In court filings, the museum argues that even if Moss was the owner of the Elvis guitar before Johnson donated it to the facility, his ownership ended when the museum acquired it. The complaint states that if Moss feels he was wronged, he should sue Johnson for damages.

“Johnson had possession and control of the guitar apparently for many years during which time Moss purports to have been the owner of the guitar, yet Moss took no action to assert his alleged rights in the guitar,” the museum's attorney, Mitchell Peterson, wrote in the complaint.

On loan from Johnson, the broken instrument was on display for about two years beginning in late 2008 at the Memphis Rock `n' Soul Museum.

Johnson, who played with singer Isaac Hayes and the band John Entwistle's Ox in the 1970s, donated the Elvis guitar and other items to the museum in April 2013. At the same time, he received $250,000 for his 1967 Gibson Explorer Korina wood guitar, formerly owned by Entwistle, who is best known as a member of The Who.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-31-14 2215GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
An Elvis tribute poster. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Heritage Auctions.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 10:33
 

Artist's foundation sues over missing NYC hotel painting

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Written by JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:41
Chelsea Hotel lobby in 2009. Image by Historystuff2. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. NEW YORK (AP) – A former owner of the Chelsea Hotel, for decades a famed artists' haunt, has removed and won't return a loaned Larry Rivers painting that hung in the lobby, the pop art pioneer's foundation said in a lawsuit Tuesday.

Dutch Masters was plucked from its prominent spot after real estate baron Joseph Chetrit bought and began renovating the Manhattan hotel in 2011, and his management rebuffed demands to return it, the Larry Rivers Foundation's suit says.

“Unfortunately, the foundation was put in the position of having to file this lawsuit,” said one of its lawyers, Judith Wallace.

A representative for Chetrit, who has since sold his stake in the hotel, had no immediate comment.

The landmark hotel gained renown as a haven for the creative. Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, and Arthur Miller were a few of those who spent time there (Bob Dylan recounted “stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel / writin’ ‘Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’” in his 1975 song Sara). In the hotel's most infamous moment, Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, there in 1978.

Rivers, who died in 2002 after a career that also included acting and filmmaking, was among the artists in the hotel's orbit. He painted Dutch Masters – also known as Syndics of the Drapery Guild as Dutch Masters – in the late 1970s as part of a series of similar works, according to the foundation, which safeguards his legacy. The image was plainly based on the cover of a Dutch Masters cigar box, even including the cigars.

Rivers lent the roughly 8-foot-by-5 1/2-foot (2.4-meter-by-1.65-meter) Dutch Masters painting to the hotel in about 1998, to replace another painting of his that he had sold, according to the lawsuit. It values the painting at $250,000 or more.

A Chetrit spokeswoman said in January 2012 that all the artwork in the hotel had been cataloged and stored elsewhere for safekeeping during the renovations, according to a Daily News report then.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-30-14 0732GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Chelsea Hotel lobby in 2009. Image by Historystuff2. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:07
 

US drops effort to reclaim mummy mask for Egypt

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Written by JIM SALTER, Associated Press   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:15
An Egyptian death mask from the 18th dynasty at the Louvre in Paris. Image by Anonymous - Rama. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France. ST. LOUIS (AP) – A 3,200-year-old mummy mask at the center of a years-long custody fight will stay at the St. Louis Art Museum now that the U.S. government is giving up its fight to reclaim it for Egypt.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said Tuesday that the Department of Justice will take no further legal action to reclaim the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer, a noblewoman who died in 1186 B.C.

The mask went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo more than 40 years ago. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately bought it in 1998.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the U.S. government provided no evidence of “theft, smuggling or clandestine importation.” An appeals court panel later agreed.

“We were relying on the lack of any records showing a lawful transfer,” Callahan said. “The court ended up deciding that wasn't enough to lead to an inference of stealing.”

A message seeking comment from Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Museum attorney David Linenbroker applauded the decision, saying: “We believe that it received a full and fair proceeding, and we're glad that it's finally coming to an end.”

The mask is 20 inches (50 centimeters) long, made of painted and gilded plaster-coated linen over wood with inlaid glass eyes. It was excavated from one of the Saqqara pyramids, south of Cairo, in 1952.

U.S. government investigators suspected that the mask was stolen sometime between 1966, when it was shipped to Cairo for an exhibit, and 1973, when the Egyptian Museum discovered it was missing.

The art museum bought the mask in 1998 for $499,000 from a New York art dealer. The museum's research showed that the mask was part of the Kaloterna private collection during the 1960s, before a Croatian collector, Zuzi Jelinek, bought it in Switzerland and later sold it to the dealer, Phoenix Ancient Art of New York, in 1995.

Egyptian officials began trying to get the mask back once they learned of its whereabouts in 2006. Negotiations failed, prompting the legal fight between the U.S. government and the art museum that began in 2011.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-29-14 1842GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
An Egyptian death mask from the 18th dynasty at the Louvre in Paris. Image by Anonymous - Rama. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:27
 

Greece’s antiquities protection department arrests one of its own

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 25 July 2014 10:38

'Antinous,' an example of Roman Hellenistic sculpture at the Delphi Archaeological Museum in Greece. Image by Ricardo Andre Frantz. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A police officer from Greece's antiquities protection department has been arrested and accused of being part of a smuggling ring that was trying to sell an ancient marble statue worth an estimated 1 million euros ($1.35 million).

Police said on Thursday that the 49-year-old officer was arrested with eight other suspects, following raids and searches at 11 areas in greater Athens and two others in towns in central and northern Greece.

The almost intact 1,900-year-old Greco-Roman era statue of a male figure measures 65 centimeters (25.5 inches) from head-to-knee, and is being kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Police did not say whether the statue had been stolen or illegally excavated, but added that a "large number" of less valuable ancient artifacts had also been seized.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-24-14 1444GMT




ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

'Antinous,' an example of Roman Hellenistic sculpture at the Delphi Archaeological Museum in Greece. Image by Ricardo Andre Frantz. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. 

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 11:00
 

Hall of Famer Jim Brown sues Lelands over '64 championship ring

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 15:50
Autographed photo of Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Saco River Auction Co.

NEW YORK (AP) – Hall of Fame football star Jim Brown – running out of time to retrieve his 1964 NFL championship ring – has sued a memorabilia dealer.

The 78-year-old Los Angeles resident filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court against Lelands.com and Lelands Collectibles Inc.

The lawsuit seeks to halt the sale of the ring in an online auction that ends Friday. It also seeks unspecified damages over broadcast remarks that Lelands' founder, Joshua Evans, made about Brown.

A message left Wednesday with Evans was not immediately returned.

According to the lawsuit, the ring was stolen from Brown's Cleveland home in the late 1960s and the robbery was reported to the police.

The lawsuit also accused Evans of making statements in print and broadcast interviews in recent weeks that implied Brown has diminished mental capacity as a result of taking thousands of hits as a football player. On at least one broadcast, though, Evans could be heard describing Brown as the greatest football player of all time and saying Brown was aware that a family member had sold the ring in the 1990s.

The lawsuit said the ring is priceless to the former Cleveland Browns player. The highest bid was $58,948 Wednesday afternoon.

Brown, who works as a Browns special adviser, rushed for 12,312 yards and scored 106 touchdowns in nine seasons before retiring at the peak of his career in 1965. In 1964, he rushed for 1,446 yards and scored seven touchdowns as the Browns won the championship – the last for any major Cleveland sports franchise.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-23-14 2013GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Autographed photo of Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Saco River Auction Co.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:10
 
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