Knowledgeable. Accomplished. Respected.


Richard A. Altman

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Practice Areas:

  • Intellectual Property Litigation 40%
  • Media and Advertising 20%
  • General Litigation 20%
  • Appellate 20%


In private practice since 1978, specializing in intellectual property (art law, copyrights, trademarks
and internet), defamation law, commercial litigation, constitutional rights, civil appeals, media and
communications, and real estate. Highly skilled in drafting transaction documents, pleadings,
motions, memoranda and appellate briefs, and conducting discovery, depositions, jury and nonjury trials and administrative hearings in state and federal courts and agencies. Briefed and argued
more than twenty-five appeals in the New York State Court of Appeals, three Appellate Divisions
and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and twice petitioned for a writ of certiorari
in the U.S. Supreme Court. Recognized by Super Lawyers since 2015. Near-fluent in reading,
writing and speaking French. Widely traveled in Europe and Asia.


  • Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York
    • J.D. - 1977
  • University of Miami
    • B.S. - 1966
    • Major: Electrical Engineering
  • Graduate work in Physics and Mathematics

Bar Admission

  • New York, 1978
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, 1979
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, 1981
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 1981
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2000
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, 2008

Published Works

  • Artists’ moral rights: Controversy and the Visual Artists Rights Act, 48 SMU L.Rev. 639 (1995).
  • The Work for Hire Doctrine and the Second Circuit’s Decision in Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, 7 DePaul-LCA J. Arts & Ent. L. 103 (1996)
  • The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990: American Artists Burned Again, 17 Cardozo L. Rev. 373 (1995)
  • Copyright, Visual Artists Rights Act, Second Circuit Holds Sculpture to be Unprotected “Work for Hire,” 109 Harv. L. Rev. 2110 (1996)
  • Contributing writer for Plenty, an environmental magazine. Author of “Dick Nixon–Tree Hugger?” (March 2005) and “Should Rivers and Trees be Able to Sue?”

Representative Cases

  • Koularmanis v. Hellenic Orthodox Community of Astoria St. Demetrios, Index No. 154305/2020 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2020)(defamation and employment discrimination claims against blogger and religious school)
  • Yeiser v. New York Daily News, L.P., Index No. 152632/2020 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2020) (defamation claim over newspaper’s false reporting of religious dispute)
  • Cohen v. Broad Green Pictures LLC, 160 A.D.3d 569 (1st Dept.2018)(defamation claim over false and defamatory depiction of a real person in a fictional film).
  • Leffler v. Kotick, Index No. 155820/2018 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2018)(attorney’s defamation claim against another attorney over false accusation of suborning perjury)
  • Biro v. Condé Nast, 807 F.3d 541 (2d Cir.2015), cert.den. 136 S. Ct. 2015 (2016)(landmark defamation action against New Yorker Magazine)
  • Marchig v. Christie’s, Inc., 430 Fed. Appx. 22 (2nd Cir.2011)(action against auction house for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence in failing to attribute a drawing to Leonardo da Vinci)
  • Orkin v. The Swiss Confederation, 444 Fed. Appx. 469 (2nd Cir.2011)(action against Swiss Government and a museum to recover a van Gogh drawing sold under duress during the Nazi era).
  • Arista Records, LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110 (2nd Cir.2010)(right of anonymity in context of downloading and file-sharing music).
  • Doss, Inc. v. Christie’s, Inc., 10-540 (2nd Cir.2010)(appeal by Paris art collector for damages arising from good-faith purchase from auction house of artwork stolen during the Nazi era).
  • Lava Records, LLC v. Amurao, 354 Fed.Appx. 461 (2nd Cir.2008)(attorney’s fees for successful defendant in copyright infringement case).
  • Leser v. Penido, 62 A.D.3d 510 (1st Dept.2009)(internet defamation)
  • Thome v. Alexander & Louisa Calder Foundation, 70 A.D.3d 88 (1st Dept. 2010)(landmark case regarding authenticity of a stage set and obligations of not-for-profit artist foundations).
  • Orkin v. Taylor, 552 U.S. 990 (2007)(petition for writ of certiorari to U.S. Supreme Court by heirs of original owner of van Gogh painting stolen during the Nazi era and purchased by Elizabeth Taylor).
  • Atlantic Records v. Shutovsky, 06 Civ. 7904 (SDNY2006)(copyright infringement for downloading and file-sharing music).
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. Ideal World Direct, 06 Civ. 4174 (SDNY2006)(copyright and trademark infringement action against operator of internet website for facilitating downloading of movies and television programs)
  • Pearson Education v. Yi Shi, 06 Civ. 11504 (SDNY2008)(copyright infringement action for selling educational materials over the internet)
  • Soho International Arts Condominium v. City of New York, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1022 and 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13201 (SDNY2004)(artist’s rights under state and federal law to prevent destruction of wall installation, and first amendment and property rights of building owner under New York City Landmarks Law)
  • Granite Realty Associates, Inc. v 403 East 76th Street Corp., Index No. 04/600356 (Sup.N.Y.Co.2004)(jury trial for seven-figure real estate broker’s commission).
  • Hanover Direct, Inc. v. Richemont Finance S.A., & Chelsey Direct, LLC, Index No. 602269/03 (Sup.N.Y.Co.2003)(lead plaintiffs’ counsel in $40 million securities litigation).
  • Business and Residents Alliance of East Harlem v. Martinez, 03 Civ. 5363 (SDNY2004)(action to enjoin demolition of Harlem factory under National Historic Preservation Act).
  • Elektra Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Does 1-9, 04 Civ. 2289 (SDNY2004)(motion to quash subpoena in copyright infringement action for downloading and file-sharing music.)
  • Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Accessory Exchange, LLC, 03-CV-6486 (SDNY2004)(Lanham Act infringement action regarding women’s handbags).
  • Anthony v. City of New York, 339 F3d 129 (2nd Cir.2003) (civil rights action for warrantless entry and arrest of disabled person in her apartment; amicus briefs filed by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, New York Civil Liberties Union, Center for Constitutional Rights and Urban Justice Center).
  • Battery Place Associates v. Paladine Software Consulting, New York Co. Index No. L&T 075608 (Civil Ct.2002)(jury trial; rent abatement for residential tenant near site of World Trade Center).
  • Admerasia, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, 00 Civ. 9784 (SDNY2000)(bid protest action against award of multi-million dollar contract for advertising and marketing services).
  • Size v. Size, 276 A.D.2d 329 (1st Dept.2000)(father-son dispute; constructive trust over condominium apartment).
  • Partnership 92 West, L.P. v. Woods, 186 Misc.2d 445 (App.Term 1st Dept.2000)(attorney’s fees in nonprimary residence litigation over rent-controlled apartment).
  • Caprotti v. Town of Woodstock, 94 NY2d 73 (1999), cert. den. 529 US 1108 (2000)(case of first impression; defamation on public access cable television).
  • Bloomberg v. West End Estates, LLC, N.Y.Co.Index No. 108512/99 (jury trial of personal injury action).
  • Mareno v. Nakano, 98 Civ. 9048 (SDNY1998)(copyright infringement of screenplay).
  • Liebgold v. Hofstra University, 245 AD2d 272 (2nd Dept.1997), lv. to appeal den., 91 NY2d 811 (1998)(defamation).
  • Liebgold v. TransUnion Corp., 97 Civ. 4870 (SDNY1997)(Fair Credit Reporting Act).
  • Wesselmann v. International Images, Inc., 645 NYS2d 263, 169 Misc2d 476 (Sup.Ct.N.Y. Co.1996)(artist-dealer relations under New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law).
  • Carter v. Helmsley-Spear, Inc., 852 F.Supp. 228, 861 F.Supp. 303 (SDNY1994), aff’d in part, vacated in part and rev’d in part 71 F.3d 77 (2nd Cir.1995), cert. den. 517 US 1208 (1996)(landmark case of first impression under federal Visual Artists Rights Act).
  • Cheng v. Dispeker, 94 Civ. 8716 (SDNY1995)(trademark infringement action for use of service mark belonging to Broadway musical performers).
  • Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants v. New York City Loft Board, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2018 (SDNY1998)(loft tenants’ constitutional challenge to depreciation regulation governing fixture sales)
  • Bryan v. West 81 Street Owners Corp., 186 A.D.2d 514 (1st Dept.1992)(business judgment rule in cooperative apartment building).
  • Lang v. Retirement Living Publishing Co., Inc., 759 F.Supp. 134 (SDNY1990), aff’d 949 F.2d 576 (2nd Cir.1991)(trademark infringement action for use of publisher’s name by magazine).
  • First Commercial Bank v. Gotham Originals, Inc., 64 NY2d 287, 486 NYS2d 715 (1985)(letter of credit and UCC).
  • Andrews 44 Coffee Shops Inc. v. TST/TMW Lexington, L.P., N.Y.Co. Index No. 603952/04
  • Valentine v. GE Management Group of NY, Inc., N.Y.Co. Index No. 602699/06
  • Katt v. Markov, 651599/2012 (Sup.Ct.N.Y.Co.2012)
  • Thome v. Alexander & Louisa Calder Foundation, 14 Civ. 3446 (S.D.N.Y.2014)


  • New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2015-2016
  • Profiled in American Lawyer, August 1994
  • Interviewed by Intellectual Property Lawcast (weekly CD-ROM service)
  • Television and radio appearances on CNN, New York 1 News, Fox 5 News, others

Classes & Seminars

  • Speaker, Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts, “For Real? Legal and Economic Perils of Art Authentication, 2011
  • Speaker, Union Internationale des Avocats in Bilbao, Spain
  • Speaker, Frequently invited to speak on art litigation, artists’ rights and other intellectual property issues at conferences, symposia, law schools and graduate seminars, most recently at theAppraisers Association of America, the New York State and City Bar Associations, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Sotheby’s, Columbia Law School, Cardozo and New York Law Schools, and Union Internationale des Avocats in Bilbao, Spain.
  • Moderator of panel on Alternate Dispute Resolution in Fair Use and Copyright Litigation, New York City Bar Association, 2006

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and Southern District of New York

Past Positions

  • Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman, Associate, 1977 to 1980
  • Independent Practice, 1980 to 2003
  • Wachtel & Masyr, LLP, Of Counsel, 2003 to 2004
  • Independent Practice, 2004 to 2020


  • English
  • French

Professional Associations

  • Member, Panel of Neutrals, World Intellectual Property Organization
  • Member, Mediation Panel of Commercial Division of Supreme Court, New York County
  • Member, Union Internationale des Avocats, Paris
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Municipal Art Society
  • U.S. Copyright Office
  • Chair, Subcommittee on the Visual Artists Rights Act, New York City Bar Association
  • Member, Art Law Committee, New York City Bar Association
  • Member, New York City Bar Association
  • Participated on panels at the U.S. Copyright Office, Municipal Art Society and New York State Bar Association
  • Member of New York City Bar Association (member, Art Law Committee)