The restructuring of Sotheby’s under its new owner, Patrick Drahi, is having a cascading effect on the legal community that underpins the art market. Late last year, the long-serving General Counsel of the auction house, Jonathan Olsoff, left along with John Cahill, former General Counsel of Phillips who was in private practice for a number of years before taking a commercial role as Sotheby’s top deal maker.
Today, the pair announced the formation of Olsoff | Cahill | Cossu LLP, a boutique art law firm that unites Olsoff and Cahill with Cahill’s former colleague in private practice, Paul Cossu, most recently a partner at Pryor Cashman. The new firm will operate in New York, Los Angeles, London and Zurich.
That last city offers a clue to some big news here. The three lawyers are forming a strategic alliance with London law firm Joseph Hage Aronson which is led by Joseph Hage. JHA Is active in commercial litigation, arbitration and tax disputes. Joe Hage is a significant but rarely discussed force behind the scenes in the art world. He has deep ties to the phenomenally successful Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon markets. Hage also acts as an advisor to artists, artist estates, and collectors in the art world.
The new firm plans to address some of the needs troubling the art market as the UK adopts new anti-money laundering protocols that may affect that art market by launching an ancillary company to supply a number of services around due diligence research, insurance, shipping, copyright clearance, escrow services, transaction structuring and financing. “OCC’s focus is to make it secure and efficient for its clients to engage in the full range of art-related services,” John Cahill explained.
Joining the firm in Los Angeles as a partner is Aimée Scala, who left a longtime editorial position at Artforum and began her legal career in New York with Cahill Cossu before building a fine art, entertainment, and intellectual property practice in Los Angeles. Focusing on tax, estate planning, nonprofits, philanthropic and artistic legacies, Pamela L. Grutman will be based in New York, where she earned her LLM in Taxation from NYU School of Law. Pamela, who also has a degree in architecture, is a member of the bars in New York, Florida, and New Jersey.