Art and Antiquities

Trade in art and antiquities can be traced back to the oldest trade routes - perhaps as early as the 2nd Millennium B.C. We may not know when the first theft, fraud or dispute over ownership occurred, but the concept of caveat emptor was then, as it is now, good advice.

The 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, set into motion a series of laws, regulations, and international agreements that do not necessarily support or compliment the trade in art and antiquities.

We guide our clients through the complex labyrinth of domestic and international law and agreements affecting trade in art and antiquities. Mistakes regarding provenance, lawful title or country of origin can prove to be disastrous. Museums and auction houses, as well as public, private, and institutional collectors, must all adequately address these issues. Our mission is to preserve our clients’ reputations, protect their collections, and ensure sound decision-making when selling, acquiring, or transferring works of art or antiquity.

Our lawyers and uniquely experienced on-staff forensic specialists are available to counsel clients with regard to current collections, acquisition policies, and import and export practices. We have a history of successfully representing clients in civil and criminal investigations brought by law enforcement, foreign officials, and trade competitors. We also provide advice on private acquisitions and sales.

The assistance we provide in this area includes:

  • Trade Risk Assessments focused on current business and importing practices.
  • Evaluation of current collections with a focus on customs documentation, provenance, authenticity and valuation.
  • Acquisition assistance in which we can provide advice on current laws, regulations and international agreements pertinent to both the country of origin and the country of export. 
  • Representation and liaison with US government agencies and officials.
  • Representation and liaison with foreign government agencies and officials.
  • Expert testimony.