Areas of Practice
Harvard Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 2006
State University of New York at Albany, B.A., summa cum laude, Philosophy; Phi Beta Kappa; Presidential Scholar
Hon. William J. Holloway, Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 2006-2007
Luke Nikas is a partner in the Firm’s New York City office.
Mr. Nikas has extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation. He was recently the lead trial counsel in a forgery case ArtNews called the “The Art Trial of the Century,” has been named a “Rising Star” by Benchmark Litigation, was selected to the Rising Stars list by New York Super Lawyers, and was listed by artnet as one of the most “highly influential” art lawyers in the world. Mr. Nikas has represented a diverse group of clients, from Fortune 100 companies to Academy Award winning artists and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. He earned his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he graduated in the top 10% of his class.
Mr. Nikas has represented clients in complex, high-profile disputes involving the ownership and authenticity of fine art where, in total, hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake, including:
- Representation of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in lawsuit against Warhol’s bodyguard to recover painting of Liz Taylor.
- Representation of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in defense of lawsuit seeking authentication of artwork purported to be by Andy Warhol.
- Representation of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in defense of lawsuit relating to the ownership of Warhol works depicting Wayne Gretzky.
- Representation of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in lawsuit against insurance company seeking to recover under D&O and E&O insurance policies.
- Representation of Wilma Tisch in lawsuit to recover stolen painting by Pablo Picasso.
- Representation of Ann Freedman, former president of Knoedler Gallery, one of the most prominent art galleries in the world before its closure, in ten lawsuits alleging contract, fraud, and RICO claims arising out of approximately $60 million in sales of forged artwork previously believed to be by Abstract Expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Clyfford Still.
- Representation of prominent theater owner and art collector in lawsuit against art gallery concerning the ownership of artwork by Jackson Pollock.
Mr. Nikas has represented clients in litigation involving complicated financial instruments and transactions, which, in total, had over $200 billion at stake. For example:
- Representation of various Fortune 100 investment banks in defense of litigation and potential litigation related to over $200 billion of troubled corporate mergers and acquisitions and high-yield debt transactions.
- Representation of Fortune 100 company in defense of securities fraud class action seeking $200 million in damages for alleged misrepresentations in prospectus for bond offering.
- Representation of Jefferson County, Alabama, in litigation arising out of its issuance of approximately $3 billion of revenue warrants, including lawsuits by Syncora Guarantee Inc. and JPMorgan Chase.
- Representation of high net-worth individual in securities arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
- Representation of Dow Corning in securities fraud litigation against various major financial services firms, alleging several hundred million dollars in damages relating to the sale of auction rate securities.
Mr. Nikas also has extensive experience litigating constitutional and media law cases for some of the world’s most accomplished journalists, media companies, and corporations, such as:
- Representation of Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and book author in responding to grand jury subpoenas seeking confidential source information.
- Representation of CBS in responding to subpoena seeking highly confidential business documents and trade secrets.
- Representation of beverage manufacturer in First Amendment, commerce clause, and equal protection action against the New York State Liquor Authority, including a challenge to the constitutionality of various state statutes.
- Representation of major manufacturer in First Amendment challenge to federal law imposing restrictions on commercial advertising.
- Representation of partner in significant New York City law firm in First Amendment appeal.
Mr. Nikas has represented several companies in antitrust cases, and he has pursued claims with over $1 billion at stake, including:
- Representation of various purchasers of LCD products in MDL antitrust litigation arising out of a price-fixing cartel that affected the prices of several products containing LCD screens.
- Representation of various purchasers of CRT products in MDL antitrust litigation arising out of a price-fixing cartel that affected the prices of several products containing CRTs.
Mr. Nikas has also handled extremely sensitive, complex disputes and negotiations regarding law firm breakups and partner departures, including the following recent representations:
- Representation of Managing Partner of major New York City law firm in multiple lawsuits and arbitrations relating to dissolution of the law firm, allegations of breach of contract and fiduciary duties, and disputes concerning the prosecution of cases regarding the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center.
- Representation of partner in significant New York City law firm in departure from firm.
Mr. Nikas also has experience litigating complex commercial disputes in several other industries, such as insurance, pharmaceuticals, environmental remediation, and real estate:
- Representation of major New York City real estate firm in $400 million putative class action regarding conversion of luxury building into condominiums.
- Representation of former U.S. Ambassador in dispute with primary and umbrella insurance companies regarding coverage for defense of defamation action.
- Representation of nationwide purchasing group of pharmacies in contract litigation against distributor of pharmaceuticals.
- Representation of real estate company as appellate counsel in appeal of adverse trial verdict concerning breach of contract by national restaurant chain.
- Representation of art foundation in disputes with remediation and engineering companies that performed environmental remediation work on polluted property.
- Representation of leading insurance company in $100 million environmental insurance dispute.
- Representation of leading insurance company in dispute under a mergers and acquisitions insurance policy relating to tax implications of deducting the contributions paid to a welfare benefit plan and trust to maintain a $70 million life insurance policy.
Mr. Nikas has also conducted internal investigations for independent audit boards, among others, regarding bribery, misconduct, and alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. For example:
- Conducted internal investigation of medical device manufacturing company to ensure company’s compliance with deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
- Conducted internal investigation of major international corporation concerning alleged graft and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Separately, Mr. Nikas has an active pro bono practice. He has served as appellate counsel in criminal matters, as well as lead counsel in civil rights lawsuits under the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. 1983.
Mr. Nikas is a member of the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. He has taught and prepared continuing legal education courses about legal writing and arbitration, delivered presentations and CLEs about disputes involving the authenticity of art, and published law review articles about federal procedure, constitutional rights, and the philosophy of law. His most recent article, an analysis of litigation concerning troubled corporate mergers and high-yield debt transactions, was published by the University of Michigan Journal of Private Equity and Venture Capital Law.
Selected Professional Awards and Associations
Member, Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association
Super Lawyers New York Rising Stars (2015, 2016)
A Complete View of the Cathedral: Claims of Tortious Interference and the Specific Performance Remedy in Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation, 3 University of Michigan Journal of Private Equity & Venture Capital Law 1 (2014)
Rethinking the Use of Foreign Law and Public Consensus: The U.S. Supreme Court's Inconsistent Methods for Defining Constitutional Rights, 13 Lewis & Clark Law Review 1007 (2009)
Tenth Circuit Litigators Beware: The Intersection of Rules 26 and 56, Hackworth v. Progressive, and the Celotex Trilogy, 32 Oklahoma City University Law Review 355 (2007).