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Namatjira Legacy Trust

01 Albert Namatjira with wife Rubina grandchildren and father Jonathon image by Pastor SO Gross courtesy of Strehlow Research Centre 002

Thirty four years after the Northern Territory Government sold the copyright into the lifetime works of Albert Namatjira, Australia’s most iconic Aboriginal artist, to a commercial gallery the copyright was returned to Arnold Bloch Leibler's clients, the Namatjira Legacy Trust, which is managed by the artist's descendants alongside independent trustees.

Having heard about the establishment of the Trust and the publicity it generated for the historic injustice, Arnold Bloch Leiber competition partner and IP specialist Zaven Mardirossian contacted one of the trustees, Colin Golvan AM QC, and offered to take on the matter pro bono. As senior partner Mark Leibler said at the time, the significance of the matter, and how it reflected the broader injustice and disrespect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians faced in the past, and still face, screamed out for our attention. Zaven, together with public interest and native title partner Peter Seidel and lawyer Gabriel Sakkal worked alongside Mark Leibler to achieve this historic outcome, which attracted media attention around the world.

Having secured the return of the copyright, Arnold Bloch Leibler proceeded to negotiate a landmark settlement with the Northern Territory Government. The settlement was deeply significant to Namatjira's descendants, not just in terms of the dollar amount, but in terms of having put to rest a very painful aspect of the family’s history.

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"We are deeply grateful to Mark, Zaven, Gab and Peter for the outstanding work in getting a problem solved which had festered for decades. Their dedication and commitment to assisting the Namatjira Legacy Trust was exemplary and the result they achieved serves as a benchmark of national significance for overcoming years of prejudice and disadvantaged faced by Aboriginal artists, not least one of the great leaders of the Aboriginal arts movement in Albert Namatjira.

"ABL has shown great leadership in the field of pro bono work on behalf of Aboriginal clients and the result in the present matter shows the value and importance of the firm’s work in this area."

Colin Golvan AM QC
Independent Director, Namatjira Legacy Trust

"ABL has shown great leadership in the field of pro bono work on behalf of Aboriginal clients and the result in the present matter shows the value and importance of the firm’s work in this area."

Colin Golvan AM QC, Independent Director, Namatjira Legacy Trust