Art

To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter!

Last year we gave you a law-related Peeps creation, by lawyer Frank Salamone. We continue the tradition this year:

So, what’s the backstory behind this year’s Peeps diorama?

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‘Think,’ one of the pieces on display at Agora Gallery.

This past weekend, two of your ATL editors paid a visit to Agora Gallery in Chelsea. We wanted to see for ourselves the LEGO brick sculptures of Nathan Sawaya, the lawyer turned LEGO artist.

As explained in our profile of Sawaya, the NYU Law grad left Winston & Strawn for a $30,000-a-year job as a builder at LEGOLAND. Several years later, Sawaya is now a world-renowned LEGO artist, whose works sell for thousands of dollars.

So, what did we get to set our eyes on? And how did we like it?

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Nathan Sawaya went to the trouble of getting a law degree, but now he’s making a living with a skill he mastered in kindergarten.

Instead of building cases these days, Sawaya is building large-scale sculptures out of LEGOs. He’s been a LEGO fanatic since he got his first set at 5 years old. He told Image Magazine that while at NYU Law, rather than using his law school desk for studying, he used it for building a LEGO replica of Greenwich Village.

Despite spending his law school days playing with blocks, he managed to score an offer from Winston & Strawn.

Six years ago, though, he won a contest at Toys R’ Us and left the firm to take a $30,000 job as a builder at LEGOland. That batsh*t crazy decision has actually turned out well for Sawaya, 36, if you consider being a world-renowned LEGO artist to be a good thing.

New Yorkers can now check out his work at Agora Gallery in Chelsea. “Brick by Brick: The Lego Brick Sculpture of Nathan Sawaya” opens today.

What might you see beyond a man-size Blackberry (with a built-in flat screen TV)? Here are some examples of Sawaya’s “art”:


Heller Ehrman small logo.jpgAs we previously reported, a sizable portion of the art collection of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman was sold at auction yesterday. The auction took place at Bonhams in San Francisco, before a standing-room-only crowd.

We submitted absentee bids on the following:

  • lot 1, Pale Orange Begonia (we bid $500; it sold for $1,159);
  • lot 2, Glass of Water (we bid $500; it sold for $671);
  • lot 99, Lover of Time (we bid $800; it sold for $1,830);
  • lot 210, Bonsai and Bicycle (we bid $1,000; it sold for $4,575); and
  • lot 290, Return of the Rice Cooker (we bid $2,000; it sold for $5,185).

All of the items we bid on went for well above their high estimates — bad news for us, but good news for Heller creditors. How much dinero did the auction generate in total?

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Heller Ehrman small logo.jpgIf you’ve always wanted to own a piece of defunct law firm Heller Ehrman, today is your lucky day. A sizable portion of the firm’s art collection is hitting the auction block in about an hour, at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco.
We previously covered a prior Heller art auction, here in New York, but that sale involved just a handful of pieces. The auction taking place today — and starting very soon, at 10 a.m. Pacific time (or 1 p.m. Eastern time) — is much larger in scope.
So what’s up for sale? And how can you get a piece of the action?

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Heller Ehrman art auction 3.jpg
Last month, we reported that bankrupt law firm Heller Ehrman would be selling some of its art to raise money for its creditors. Heller hopes to raise $1 million (or more) through a series of sales, in New York and California.
The first of several Heller art auctions took place yesterday at Bonhams & Butterfields, at 580 Madison Avenue in New York. We attended, both to cover the proceedings and in the hope of making a purchase or two. (The most important works from the Heller collection will be sold next year, but those pieces — by artists like Diebenkorn, Lichtenstein, and Serra — are a bit beyond our price range.)
Upon arrival at Bonhams, we checked in with a receptionist. We were asked to provide our driver’s license and credit card for photocopying, which we did. Buyers can pay for purchases with either a credit card or a check, but the auction house still copies your credit card for its records.
(There is a slight discount for using a check or cash over a credit card. The buyer’s premium, a commission paid by the winning bidder to the auction house, is 22 percent of the purchase price for credit cards, but 20 percent for cash or check.)
After supplying the requested documentation and filling out a short form, we were given a paddle for bidding. We were hoping for something wooden; the word “paddle” conjures up images of spanking — fun! Instead, we received a laminated card of gray and white plastic, printed with the number “238″ (our bidder number).
Did we make any purchases? How well did the Heller Ehrman art sell? Find out, plus check out pictures of the art, after the jump.

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Heller Ehrman small logo.jpgIt’s been a long time since we checked in on the ruins of Heller Ehrman. It seems strange that it’s been over a year since Heller Ehrman announced that it was closing its doors.
Everybody that was going to land on their feet after Heller collapsed has presumably landed. Those who never did get a job back in Biglaw post-Heller have hopefully moved on to other lucrative and rewarding careers.
While most of Heller’s employees have moved on, it looks like some of Heller’s things are still looking for new owners. One tipster reports that you can purchase your own little piece of Heller if you want to:

FYI the art from the Heller Ehrman art collection is up for sale at Bonhams New York:

Sale 17421 – Contemporary and Modern Art

Let’s take a look at what fine pieces of art you can score from the demise of Heller Ehrman.

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* “T.Owes.” [ESPN]
* Rebates to $500? [CNN]
* AG Mukasey won’t label waterboarding. [MSNBC]
* Sen. McCain wins Florida, Rudy to bow out. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Federal inquiry into stolen artifacts expands. [New York Times]
* Margaret Truman, only child of President Truman and author of mysteries set at the Supreme Court and the FBI, RIP. [AP]

* Slate debates Sen. Craig’s arrest and plea. [New York Times]
* DC Madam seeks new counsel. [CNN Poli-Tick]
* Federal court, using wooden gavel, upholds NYC metal bat ban. [ESPN]
* Artist arrested for burning Burning Man man. [MSNBC]

Mona Lisa Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWorking in the legal profession, and especially at a large law firm, generally comes with a lot of fringe benefits. So our series of posts on Biglaw perks is by no means complete.
Here’s the perk that we’ll discuss today: office art (or a decorating budget). If you’re going to spend thousands of billable hours a year in that space, shouldn’t it be beautiful?
When we were at a firm, if you asked the office manager, you’d be taken to a special art closet. It was full of random items that were deemed unsuitable for other spaces within the firm — e.g., hallways, conference rooms, partner offices — but were there for the taking by associates. We selected this weird orange-brown-white composition, a painting that looked a lot like a collage. It had a certain “so bad it’s good” quality to it.
Other firms will give you a budget for decorating your digs. We hear, for example, that Kirkland & Ellis gives associates something like $300 $350 for art and office decor. A source tells us: “People use it to frame their diplomas and bar admission certificates. It’s nice.”
So, what does your employer do for you on this front? Please discuss, in the comments. Thanks.
Update: To read about law firm art collections (as opposed to art in associate offices), see here.
“A Robe Called Paul Weiss” [WSJ Law Blog]

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