Art & Cultural Heritage

Art & Cultural Heritage

Hans Hartung, sheet 1 of “Farandole”,
lithography 1970, collection Klein Solicitors

While the performance of the international market for art and antiques remains cautious overall, there continues to be unabated interest and investment in high quality art from private individuals, professionals, and institutional collectors alike, whether driven by passion or calculation. The art market now functions on a truly global level. But while record sales prices for quality art grab headlines in the international press, forgery and deceit, and the plunder and theft of cultural heritage in crisis torn regions of the world have reached unprecedented levels, creating traps not only for the unwary amateur but even for major international institutions who dispose of unparalleled expertise in their areas of interest.

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, covering as diverse a range of areas as 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, and home to many leading collections, dealers, galleries, auction houses, and other service providers. English law and regulations have a bearing on almost all transactions conducted in this market place. Art law is as dynamic as the subject matter to which it relates and it continuously evolves and increases 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. By way of further example, proposed changes in Chinese law and new treaties will have a major impact on the legitimacy of sales of Chinese antiquities anywhere in the world, including London.

Klein Solicitors share their clients’ passion for art and bring their legal experience and expertise in this area to bear when they undertake transactional or dispute resolution

Work and advise and represent 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 pride ourselves in our ability to provide fast, effective and discrete advice and representation, preserving and protecting the reputation of our clients and of the art works with which they are concerned. Where necessary and appropriate, we work with an extensive international network of trusted legal and professional advisers and experts in the art world to serve our clients’ needs and fulfil their objectives.

By way of example, our lawyers have assisted a German art gallery with the recovery of a major expressionist oil painting misappropriated by an intermediary in Paris, traced to London, and recovered by us on the same day through injunction proceedings in the High Court. The painting was placed in secure expert custody and returned to our client shortly thereafter following summary court proceedings. Recent instructions included advising a US American artist in conjunction with a large scale installation in Liverpool and a Japanese photographer on an English gallery contract.

We also advise and act for collectors and dealers of other high value collectibles, most notably, the sale, acquisition, restoration and collection of important motorcars and sportscars.

We will always be pleased to discuss your legal issues and requirements with you on an informal basis before accepting instructions. Please contact either Gregor Kleinknecht or Anna O’Connell on +44 (0)207 958 9080 or by e-mail to for further information.

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