Art @Law

Archive: 2013 (July-Dec)

Out of the Shadow of the Third Reich


The discovery in a Munich flat of a hoard of over 1400 artworks acquired by Hildebrand Gurlitt in dubious circumstances during the Second World War has been making headline news.  The current value of the collection of artworks has been estimated at over €1 billion and contains previously unknown works by Matisse, Chagall, Picasso and Renoir. Gurlitt, an art dealer and collector, allegedly assisted Hitler in pillaging art from Jews in Germany and other countries occupied by the Third Reich. 

The Silk Merchant, 1890-93 (oil on canvas)

Online Trading – Art Dealers Beware


An increasing number of dealers in art and antiques are making sales online.  Whilst legal principles relevant to the sale of goods in person apply to sales on the Internet, consumers buying online are offered an additional protection.  In particular, they have the unconditional right to cancel online purchases for any reason within a ‘cooling off period’.  The right to cancel is particularly draconian for dealers and is set to get worse. These additional rights are available only to consumers. 

The embarkation of the Knights of the Holy Spirit for the crusades, after a miniature in the 'Statuts de l'ordre du Saint-Esprit de Naples' manuscript in the Louvre, engraved by Felix Regamey (1844-1907) late 19th century (colour litho)

Art Finance – Leaving the art on the borrower’s walls


In Europe, banks and other specialist providers of loans against art, antiques and collectible items have often no choice but to take possession of the collateral in order to perfect their security interest.  This is the case where the law of the country where the collateral is physically located when the security interest is granted, affords the lender no option to put third parties on notice that the lender has an interest in the collateral, other than by taking possession.

The Last Day of the Sale (oil on canvas)

Danger Ahead – Auctions Undermined by New Consumer Protection


Under EU law, consumers buying goods from a trader at a distance, or from a trader face-to-face but outside the trader’s usual business premises, have the right to cancel the contract of sale within the so-called ‘cooling off period’ without giving any reason.  They simply notify the trader that they no longer want the goods, and return them. In the case of distance purchase, the consumer is not able to see the goods before concluding the contract, accordingly, so the

Mollien Pavilion, the Louvre

Borrowing Against Your Art


Art collectors are often unable to display their entire collection in their homes. They keep part of it in storage, or they lend it to museums. Why not leverage artworks in storage or hanging on museum walls by borrowing against them? Art finance is a growing industry. Citibank pioneered art finance in the 1970’s.  Last year, Michael Plummer of Artvest Partners in New York estimated the art lending market at USD 7 billion. Since then, new lenders have entered the market.


Trading with the Enemy


International sanctions are actions taken by one country against another, either unilaterally or multilaterally. Their aim is to change the behaviour of the target country’s regime in order to maintain or restore international peace and security, or to improve the situation in that country. International sanctions are generally imposed by the United Nations or the European Union. Trade sanctions typically involve a ban on trade, possibly limited to certain sectors such as armaments, or with certain exceptions (such as food


The Destruction of Fakes


The destruction of fakes at the behest of artist committees is a long standing practice in France. In two recent decisions both involving artworks signed “Miro”, the Court of Appeal of Paris ordered the destruction of the artworks. In the first case (Lotz -v- A.D.O.M., 12 June 2013), Mr Lotz, an Austrian national, bought a watercolour on paper signed “Miro” from a US dealer through Artprice. Mr Lotz submitted the watercolour to A.D.O.M., the association with moral rights over artworks


The Recovery of Unlawfully Exported Cultural Property with the European Union – The European Commission has a Plan


The European Commission has unveiled plans to strengthen the Restitution Directive. Council Directive 93/7 EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State (also known as the Restitution Directive) was adopted in 1993, when the internal frontiers amongst Member States were abolished, in order to protect cultural objects that are classified as national treasures. The purpose of the Directive was to assist Member States in securing the return of cultural objects classed as

Import VAT and the Free Movement of Goods within the European Union

Import VAT and the Free Movement of Goods within the European Union


The importation of goods into the European Union is subject to import VAT. The rate of import VAT varies from EU country to EU country. The rate also varies depending on the type of goods. Unless an exemption applies, the importer of art, antiques and collectibles is liable to pay import VAT. In some EU countries, the standard rate of import VAT applies. The standard rate (depending on the EU country) varies between 15% and 25%. In other EU countries,