Comments on: Who owns Spiral Jetty? A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: Sad_Oligarch Fri, 08 Jul 2011 14:54:46 +0000 Felix,

You need to spend some time talking to a dirt lawyer before you write these pieces.

The splitting up of land ownership akin to medieval “how many angels can fit on the head of a pin” acrobatics has a long history. What this investment banker is doing is nothing new. It only seems new to you. A good example is Rockefeller Center or the Chrysler Building. Both buildings sit on leased land (Columbia U. owns the RC land and Cooper Union the Chrysler land) but no one thinks that those institutions get to control the IP associated with those landmarks unless somewhere in the actual ground leases those rights are given to the landlord vs. the leaseholder.

The ultimate division of rights under the lease will govern what the Jetty Foundation can do with the Spiral Jetty. Utah can’t grant rights to the lessee it doesn’t have a right to grant (mineral and water rights are a great example out West – often those rights are separated from the actual possessor of the land). Perhaps they will build a swanky desert tent camp for visitors. Perhaps they will be allowed to charge for admission (with Utah getting a cut). The right to control access to a property is valuable and in this case certainly worth bidding for (though one wonders how many actual visitors there would be even if the site gets amenities that would make it more amenable to visitors a la Marfa).

Sometimes you come off as the greenest cub reporter. You don’t have to speculate when discussing this when a 30 minute call to a competent real estate attorney in Utah would have educated you fully on what the possibilities are here.

By: FosterBoondog Fri, 08 Jul 2011 14:39:03 +0000 Lewis Carroll got there 150 years ago.

Alice was walking beside the White Knight in Looking Glass Land.

“You are sad.” the Knight said in an anxious tone: “let me sing you a song to comfort you.”

“Is it very long?” Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.

“It’s long.” said the Knight, “but it’s very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it –
either it brings tears to their eyes, or else -”

“Or else what?” said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.

“Or else it doesn’t, you know. The name of the song is called ‘Haddocks’ Eyes.\'”

“Oh, that’s the name of the song, is it?” Alice said, trying to feel interested.

“No, you don’t understand,” the Knight said, looking a little vexed. “That’s what the name
is called. The name really is ‘The Aged, Aged Man.\'”

“Then I ought to have said ‘That’s what the song is called’?” Alice corrected herself.

“No you oughtn’t: that’s another thing. The song is called ‘Ways and Means’ but that’s only
what it’s called, you know!”

“Well, what is the song then?” said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

“I was coming to that,” the Knight said. “The song really is ‘A-sitting On a Gate\': and the
tune’s my own invention.”

By: gregorg Fri, 08 Jul 2011 14:32:53 +0000 While I differ in how I’d characterize The Jetty Foundation’s mission, I applaud and and a bit envious of your analysis here, Felix.

That said, I’d also point out that the distinction between the Spiral Jetty artwork and the land under it is not mine, or not originally mine. In first reporting on the expiration of Dia’s lease, Glen Warchol at the SL Tribune noted that the standard language of Utah’s Dept of Natural Resources lease calling for the removal of “any improvements” within 90 days could apply to the Jetty. 92-78/dia-jetty-lease-spiral.html.csp

Setting aside the IP aspects of artwork, which are fairly universal, there are other instruments like certificates of authenticity that can come into play with conceptual or other contemporary work. But these have economic impact. You can’t sell a Flavin without the certificate, but the Flavin Estate can and does refabricate any work it wants to for exhibition anytime.

Spiral Jetty is unique as an Earthwork inextricably tied to its site, which happens to be sovereign state land, but it has long since been removed from the market by virtue of its entry into Dia, a non-profit’s collection. So I guess my biggest issue here is keeping a distinction between ownership and stewardship. The Jetty Foundation’s mission is the latter, not the former.

By: Curmudgeon Fri, 08 Jul 2011 14:25:38 +0000 This brings back memories. I had a print of the spiral jetty, circa 1980, that I received at an art exhibit at Cornell University at around that time. As a young professional, I kept the print in my office, a security defense engineering facility, until it was stolen one day after hours. So much for the secure part of that facility.