Moai Sculpture to be Restored Following VARA Dispute

November 4, 2016

Cleary Gottlieb recently completed a successful pro bono representation of the artist Edward Dorson in connection with the repair and reinstallation of Mr. Dorson’s sculpture, Moai.

For over four decades, Moai stood in front of the Phoenix cooperative building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Earlier in 2016, in connection with the renovation of the front plaza of the Phoenix, Moai was severed from its base and transported to a storage facility. The sculpture was severely damaged in the process.

Mr. Dorson retained Cleary on the recommendation of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to pursue settlement negotiations with the Phoenix in relation to Mr. Dorson’s rights under the Visual Rights Act of 1990 and similar provisions of New York state law. Among other things, VARA protects works of visual art from destruction and mutilation. 

Following several months of negotiations, the Phoenix agreed to pay for the restoration of Moai to its original condition at a fabricator of Mr. Dorson’s choosing and under his supervision, and to return Moai to its original location in front of the Phoenix.