This is a brief excerpt from the document you requested from IFAR’s Art Law & Cultural Property Database.

Case Summary

Brancusi v. United States

Brancusi v. United States, 54 Treas. Dec. 428 (Cust. Ct. 1928).

In this seminal case, decided during the early years of abstract art, the court was asked to answer the ever-vexing question of “what is art?”  At issue was whether Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture Bird in Space (referred to in the reported decision as Bird in Flight) was, as United States customs officials had claimed, merely a “manufacture of metal” subject to import taxes, or whether it was a work of art entitled to . . . .

Click here to subscribe to IFAR's Art Law & Cultural Property Database to access this and other documents about U.S. and international legislation and case law concerning the acquisition, authenticity, export, ownership, and copyright of art objects.