Our Services

Art Law Team

Issues In the Trade


Art occupies many roles and serves many functions for businesses, governments, museums, families and artists across the globe. Whether you experience art as a form of currency, a source of controversy or as a calling, you may encounter sophisticated legal and commercial questions, requiring experience and judgment.

From creation, to exhibition, to sale.

Currency

  • How should works of art in an estate be valued to appropriately minimize estate taxes?
  • How should art be valued when pledged as collateral for a loan?
  • What are the preferred and customary endorsements and exclusions in an art insurance policy?
  • How can you donate your collection in the most tax advantageous manner?
  • How can you protect your work of art while exhibited in a gallery or museum?

Controversy

  • Was your work of art prohibited from exportation out of its home country?
  • Were use taxes reported and paid?
  • Did an unscrupulous dealer sell your consigned work without paying you the proceeds…for years?
  • If you unwittingly purchased a stolen artwork, do you own it?
  • Did someone copy your work of art?

Calling

  • Who owns the copyright?
  • Who owns the right to make, distribute and sell images of your work of art?
  • Who enforces the copyright to your work after it is sold or licensed?
  • What should you do if your work of public art needs to be restored or repaired?
  • Can you move a public work from its original location?
  • Who has to pay—and who gets paid—if your work shows up in an advertisement?

Understanding legal and business issues in the art world is critical to preserving your ownership rights, valuing and insuring your art and protecting your interests. Failure to understand the dynamic and changing art law and business environment can result in drastic consequences—failed investments, costly and unending disputes and, sometimes, heartbreaking loss of a work of art.

Bryan Cave Capabilities


We combine boutique level knowledge and experience in art law with the world class professionalism of a full service, global law firm.

For some of our clients, art is a form of currency. We unlock and preserve art’s value to secure debt financing, to protect investments through insurance, to minimize estate tax liability, and to structure donations for maximum tax benefit.

For some of our clients, art is a source of controversy. Our art law dispute resolution attorneys guide clients through an array of controversies arising from art creation, sale, restoration and loss, copyright, ownership, consignment, insurance coverage, public art, authenticity, valuation, forgery and fraud.

For some of our clients, art is a calling. We help artists express their inspiration, protect their works and avoid unnecessary risk and obstacles. Copyright and artists’ moral rights, licensing, commissioned works and public art installations, relationships with dealers, galleries, museums, expositions and traveling exhibitions, insurance and import/export are some of the more common issues in which we counsel both artists of world renown and the next generation of innovators.

Our breadth and depth in all matters relating to art, including negotiation, documentation, transaction structuring, finance, international trade, tax and intellectual property, have helped clients across the globe protect their interests and maximize their investments of money, time, talent and affection.

Specifically, we help:
  • Artists and patrons create works of public art and protect their moral, commercial and legal rights;
  • Galleries set up shop, manage risks and succeed;
  • Publishers acquire rights to art portfolios for commercial distribution;
  • Families correctly plan and administer estates to maximize value;
  • Banks and borrowers convert art to collateral;
  • Artists safely navigate gallery consignments and commissions;
  • Art exhibitors create a platform for artists from around the world to display their works;
  • Purchasers establish the authenticity and ownership of a work of art;
  • Galleries and collectors review and negotiate art insurance policies and collect on loss claims;
  • Collectors get justice following exposure of a forgery or a fraud;
  • Governments and agencies draft legislation protecting artists and public art programs.

Helping Art Happen

Results


For over thirty years, our client worked to install a massive temporary work of public art in a major American city. However, municipal bureaucratic logjams, a very tight calendar and an initially unfavorable negotiating environment made the outcome anything but certain. Further, sales tax issues complicated the ability to realize the work.
  • Our art lawyers negotiated with the city lawyers, working closely with the client.
  • Our labor lawyers worked with the client to hire, train and manage battalions of workers to mount and secure the work of art.
  • Our clients mounted a massive work of public art that was the worldwide artistic event of the year.

Justice for a Defrauded Collector


Our clients amassed a significant collection of American impressionist paintings. Before retirement, our clients consigned their valuable works to a prominent, but surprisingly insolvent, art dealer, who sold the paintings but failed to turn over the proceeds. Our clients’ insurer denied their claim for loss or theft.

Our litigators:
  • Coordinated lawsuits in federal court against the gallery, the clients’ insurer, and other parties.
  • Saved another gallery that had obtained one of our clients’ paintings.
  • Forestalled claims by other purchasers around the United States while targeting our clients’ insurer.
  • Cooperated with the FBI in an investigation of the insolvent dealer.

Results


We obtained federal court rulings in our clients’ favor that forced the insurer’s payment for all lost paintings.
  • Our clients recovered a painting by a noted American master through emergency court proceedings.

Creative Solutions for Artists to solidify our client’s position


Our litigators:
  • Coordinated lawsuits in federal court against the gallery, the clients’ insurer, and other parties.
  • Saved another gallery that had obtained one of our clients’ paintings.
  • Forestalled claims by other purchasers around the United States while targeting our clients’ insurer.
  • Cooperated with the FBI in an investigation of the insolvent dealer.
  • We obtained federal court rulings in our clients’ favor that forced the insurer’s payment for all lost paintings.
  • Our clients recovered a painting by a noted American master through emergency court proceedings.

Results


Our clients amassed a significant collection of American impressionist paintings. Before retirement, our clients consigned their valuable works to a prominent, but surprisingly insolvent, art dealer, who sold the paintings but failed to turn over the proceeds. Our clients’ insurer denied their claim for loss or theft.

Benefit to You


Our clients gain the benefit of our experience, industry and legal knowledge to protect their works of art, maximize commercial opportunities and resolve disputes related to ownership, valuation, import and export, licensing, insurance and consignments.

We pair our knowledge and experience in art law with our commitment to providing world class legal services to our clients, including:
  • 360 Perspective: We strive to know our clients and learn the aspirations, challenges and opportunities that drive them. We consider not just the issue or transaction in front of us, but also the broader impact of strategies and outcomes on our clients’ businesses and lives.
  • Speed: We have deep and well-managed resources to maximize efficiency and accelerate progress.
  • Reduced Risk: We seek to uncover problems and pitfalls in art ownership and to reduce litigation risks to our clients, while identifying advantages and opportunities that would be otherwise overlooked.
  • Effective Negotiations: We have substantial experience in managing and conducting successful negotiations in the transfer and commissioning of works of art and in settling art-related disputes.
  • Communication: We believe that the bedrock of our relationship with clients is two-way communication about strategies, tactics and desirable outcomes. We listen, and we hope our clients stay engaged in the process every step of the way – when time pressures get in the way, however, we keep our clients well informed.