What Happens When a Collector Promises to Donate an Artwork and Then Flips It at Auction Instead? It’s More Harmful Than You Think

July 9, 2019 – Media Mention
artnet News

Herrick Partner and Chair of its Trusts & Estates Department, Barbara Lawrence, was quoted in this week's artnet News in an article addressing the divisive and gray-area issues that arise when art collectors renege on their pledged gifts to art institutions. Barbara stated, “You have market crashes, recessions, other business issues for a family...[t]he question is, if there is something so extreme that a family needs a promised gift for their livelihood, is a museum going to go after them and be seen as the bad guy?”

Laws surrounding these matters still remain unclear. The article notes that Barbara "points out that although American public policy favors finding institutional pledges to be legally binding, several theories exist for what makes them enforceable. (One theory requires the museum to take an action that shows its “reliance on the pledge,” such as discussing it in press materials.)...Lawrence defines the choice to take action against a reneging donor as a “business decision.”