Thursday, April 9, 2015

Palm Beach Opera Hit With Lawsuit Regarding Raimondi Sculpture

Spirit Ascending by John Raimondi
"The sculpture Spirit Ascending once stood 39-feet-tall, a focal point for a South Florida philanthropist's home and later a piece for the Palm Beach Opera's now-defunct opera house building plans. And it was reduced to a pile of scrap metal, which the artist said was sold for cash. Sculptor John Raimondi filed a federal lawsuit Monday, claiming the opera dismantled the 2-1/2-ton, bronze sculpture in September 2013 without asking his permission to do so, in violation of the federal Visual Artists Rights Act. After destroying his piece, Raimondi claims opera officials sold off the pieces of bronze to a scrapyard for profit. 'It's just inconceivable,' he said. 'I could understand if they were a concrete company or something, but they're in the business of observing and preserving an art form — opera. It's incomprehensible.' Ceci Dadisman, the opera's director of communications, said the organization has not yet been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday....The Visual Artists Rights Act, which was adopted in 1990, is a federal law that grants certain rights to artists who produce printed photographs, sculptures, paintings and other pieces of art. One of those rights is that an artist's work cannot be destroyed, distorted or modified without the artist's consent. Raimondi's lawyer, L. Louis Mrachek, said sometimes when a piece of art is sold, a Visual Artist Rights Act clause can be included in the contract, which would void the rights of the artist. In the case of Spirit Ascending, no such contract was signed with either Pope or the opera. [Source]

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