MICHAEL WARD STOUT is a partner at Stout Thomas & Johnson, and was raised in Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin (B.A. 1965; J.D. 1968). Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Stout moved to New York and became an associate in the corporate department of a large international law firm. In 1971, he left that firm to pursue his interest in intellectual property and copyright law by joining a New York law firm prominent in the fields of music and theater.
Mr. Stout began his own practice in 1974 when he became professionally interested in the rights of visual artists and related legal issues. He began representing various artists, including Salvador Dalí, whom Mr. Stout represented until the artist’s death in January 1989. Over the years Mr. Stout has represented many prominent artists and arts organizations as well as writers, choreographers, publishers, fashion photographers, and others in creative fields.
Mr. Stout is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Art Law Committee 1997-1999), and the American Bar Association.
Mr. Stout is also active in various roles with charitable institutions and non-profit organizations, such as The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation (President); The Robert Mapplethorpe Residential Treatment Facility at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York (board member); The Whitney Museum of American Art (Photography Committee member); The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Photography Committee member); The Museum of Modern Art (Library Council member); University of Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art (council member); and The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (member of the Board of Governors).
Mr. Stout, who has been actively involved in fundraising for the fight against AIDS and HIV infection, was also for more than seven years a member of the board of directors of the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
Mr. Stout has appeared nationally as an expert on the subject of art fraud, specifically in proceedings brought by the United States Department of Justice, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the United States Postal Service. Mr. Stout has also lectured extensively about copyright law, the visual arts, artist-funded foundations and estate- planning for artists. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Whitney Museum’s American Art Award.
JOHN CHARLES THOMAS is a partner at Stout Thomas & Johnson. Since 1985 he has been extensively involved in legal and business matters relating to visual artists and fine-art organizations, and related creative fields such as commercial photography, film/television, design, and dance. His practice frequently involves areas such as copyrights, trademarks and rights of publicity/privacy; the exhibition, sale, loan, editioning, fabrication, authentication, and commissioning of works of fine art; structuring creative projects and collaborations, including commissions of large-scale site-specific works of fine art; publishing agreements (particularly for art, photography, and other illustrated books); licensing and merchandising agreements; performance agreements; personal-appearance and speaking agreements; film, television and related agreements; estate planning for artists and collectors; issues relating to museum collections and programming; the structure and management of artists' studios; and the set-up, governance, and compliance issues relating to arts foundations, museums, and other charitable organizations.
Prior to joining the firm in 1992, Mr. Thomas worked for five years as an executive in the entertainment industry, developing film and television projects and acting as a production executive on film and television productions. He co-authored the section of The Art Collecting Legal Handbook (Thompson Reuters, 2013) that deals with the United States (New York and Federal law).
Mr. Thomas serves as a trustee of STREB, the noted dance company founded by Elizabeth Streb.
Mr. Thomas graduated from Columbia College (1980) and NYU Law School (1984). He speaks Italian, Spanish, and French.
Mr. Thomas is a member of the Bar Association of the City of New York.
ERIC R. JOHNSON is a partner at Stout Thomas & Johnson and has been with the firm since 1997. He works primarily with visual artists, agencies representing artists, museums, arts publications, fashion designers, graphic designers, advertising agencies, writers, designers and performance artists. His areas of practice include copyrights, trademarks and contracts.
Mr. Johnson is a trustee of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, as well as a member of the board of directors of Moving Theater, Inc.
Mr. Johnson graduated from Binghamton University (1991) and Brooklyn Law School (1995).
Mr. Johnson is a member of the Bar Association of the City of New York.