Modigliani Expert Says a Nonprofit Is Holding His Research ‘Hostage’

Historians in the News
tags: archives, art history, copyright, Modigliani

For more than three decades, Marc Restellini’s life has been very much about his study of Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian painter known for his elongated, slender faces and figures.

He has organized exhibitions of Modigliani’s work in spots around the world and in the 1990s began his own magnum opus: a catalogue raisonné, or a definitive compendium, of Modigliani’s work.

He has been exhaustive in authenticating the artist’s work because Modigliani, whose paintings often sell for millions of dollars, has been a favorite of forgers. So to document their authenticity, Mr. Restellini, a French art scholar, has worked to persuade owners to submit their paintings for testing, sampled the paint, analyzed the works with infrared photography and magnetic resonance, and sought documents from family members of Modigliani’s original collectors.

But now, months before the first volumes of Mr. Restellini’s catalogue raisonné are expected to be published, he says in a federal copyright lawsuit filed in Manhattan this week that he believes a nonprofit organization in New York, the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, is planning to make some of his research publicly available.

“The law allows Mr. Restellini, and only Mr. Restellini, to determine how, when, and where to disclose the results of his years of research and his scientific discoveries about the works of Modigliani,” his lawyer, Daniel W. Levy, said in a statement.

Mr. Restellini’s lawsuit against the institute asserts that it is in possession of roughly 89 boxes and various other containers of research materials that he had amassed over the years and that are rightfully his. The lawsuit accuses the nonprofit of holding this research “hostage.”

Read entire article at The New York Times