Art and Cultural Property

While the performance of the international market for art and antiques remains cautious, investment in high quality art continues.

The art market functions at a global level. But while record prices for quality art grab headlines, forgery, deceit, and the plunder and theft of cultural heritage in crisis-torn regions have reached unprecedented levels, creating traps not only for the unwary amateur but also for major international institutions.

Yet wherever art is created, acquired, sold, consigned, auctioned, loaned, insured, exhibited, exported, imported, or misappropriated, it is subject to a maze of international conventions and differing national laws, regulations and practices. These cover a diverse range: contract, property, tort, intellectual property, trade, customs, tax and inheritance law, as well as the rules on conflicts of laws, governing and controlling the activities of artists, publishers, dealers, galleries, auctioneers, financiers, insurers, private and public collectors, and major museums worldwide.

London is at the heart of the international art market: English law and regulations have a bearing on almost every transaction. Art law is dynamic, continuously evolving and increasing in complexity. Important recent developments range from the artist’s resale right (“droit de suite”) to a growing international trend for governments, public institutions and private individuals to trace lost art works, challenge ownership, and seek their return through court proceedings and press campaigns.

We share our clients’ passion for art, bringing our experience and expertise to bear when they undertake transactions or are involved in disputes. We advise private, corporate, professional and institutional clients in the following areas:

  • Creation, protection and exploitation of UK and European intellectual property rights including copyright, moral rights and artists’ resale royalty rights
  • Sale and acquisition of art works through private treaty or at auction, including gallery and commissioning agreements,
  • Provenance, appraisal, attribution, authenticity, ownership and title in art works
  • Risk management and pre-acquisition due diligence
  • Import, export, customs compliance and cross-border movement of art
  • Loan, bequest and exhibition of art works
  • All aspects of fraud, fakes, forgeries, theft and money laundering
  • Insurance coverage and insurance recovery claims
  • Creation, management and dissolution of art collections
  • Tracing and recovery of lost or misappropriated art and cultural heritage
  • Sponsorship, marketing and merchandising
  • Tax and estate planning aspects of owning and disposing of art

We provide effective, discrete advice, preserving and protecting our clients’ reputation and the art works with which they are concerned. Where appropriate, we work with an extensive international network of trusted legal and professional advisers and art experts to serve their needs.

Our lawyers have assisted a German art gallery with the recovery of a major expressionist oil painting misappropriated in Paris, traced to London, and recovered by us on the same day through injunction proceedings in the High Court. Recent instructions included advising an American artist on a large scale installation in Liverpool and a Japanese photographer on an English gallery contract.

We also advise collectors and dealers of other high value collectibles, most notably important motorcars and sportscars.

We are always pleased to discuss your legal issues and requirements on an informal basis before accepting instructions.


Hetty Gleave “has made a strong practice in the art side and is very keen on dispute resolution.” A source adds: “She has a strong way of working and a good reputation in the area.” Chambers and Partners 2017

Gregor Kleinknecht is a “very well versed, with quite a strong international client base on the art side”. Chambers and Partners 2017

Hetty Gleave is “exceptionally meticulous” and “very knowledgeable, personable and calm”. Chambers and Partners 2016

Gregor Kleinknecht is also ranked Band 3, “is very involved and is one of the few I would think of as being an art market specialist”, according to one commentator. Chambers and Partners 2016

“One of the few firms with a specialist team in this field”. The Legal 500 2016

Hetty Gleave is “very well known in the area; practical, with a good range of knowledge and industry experience”. The Legal 500 2016

“Very thorough, with a good specialist knowledge of heritage legislation”. The Legal 500 2015


Introducing your art and cultural property team

We understand our clients’ needs and tailor our work to each set of circumstances, providing high quality, cost effective advice. We are a multi disciplinary practice and work collaboratively to provide a comprehensive service over all our practice areas.


Assistant Solicitors

Assistant Solicitor

Private client news