Fine art and cultural property

A major participant in the international art market. With over 100 years' experience we provide commercial advice with real authority. Our multi-disciplined and dedicated team have a passionate interest in the field and can advise on a broad range of matters.
  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Key contacts

We have been advising art market clients for over 100 years. Past partners have held positions as trustees of the National Gallery and the Tate. We set up the Art Fund and the Courtauld Institute. Today we act for a diverse range of clients across the market including:

We advise on an equally diverse range of matters:

  • acquisition and disposal
  • agency and commission agreements
  • art funds
  • attribution and authenticity disputes
  • auctions
  • criminal law
  • corporate strategy and investment
  • droit de suite
  • export licensing
  • finance and security
  • intellectual property
  • internet trading
  • regulatory and compliance including EU regulation
  • stolen and looted art
  • tax and VAT
  • terms of business
  • title disputes.

We sponsor exhibitions both at our own offices and externally and provide pro bono advice to young artists, students and start up gallery ventures. This includes workshops for students at the Royal College of Art, a long-standing client. "All I can say is that we are very appreciative and thrilled that, law-wise, we are in such good hands." (Leslie Waddington)

We are ranked as experts in art and cultural property by both Chambers and Legal 500.

"It is a terrific firm. The teams they put together are so good at servicing their clients"
Chambers UK 2016

Auctioneers

  • Successfully defended a claim challenging the enforceability of their conditions of sale.
  • Acted in the defence of proceedings to enforce the authenticity warranty in the conditions of sale.

Dealers

  • Advised in a dispute concerning an alleged secret commission payable on a transaction involving a net return price.
  • Advised in a hotly disputed claim alleging breach of a title warranty and related warranties.
  • Advising in relation to exports in breach of our export regime and on imports of objects comprising banned materials.
  • Negotiating sales and purchases of valuable works of art.
  • Advising a number of dealer organisations on standard consignment terms and conditions.

Museums

  • Advice on export issues including advising on applications for export licences in respect of items which satisfy the Waverley criteria.
  • Due diligence advice for the purpose of acquisitions.

Collectors

  • Advised on a bidding dispute with a major auction house.
  • Advised on a misattribution claim in respect of an Old Master which had been undersold.
  • Advising on the sale and purchase of a digital art work.

Finance

  • Advised auction houses on funding customers in advance of sales of artwork.
Lawyer

Roland Foord Partner

T:  +44 20 7809 2315
M:  +44 7880 506 624 Email Roland | Vcard Office:  London

Latest news & insights

09 Sep 2016

From Insights

No more knock off Eames

If you want a knock off replica Eames chair you have less than six months to pick it up, otherwise you will have to wait until 2048.

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09 Sep 2016

From Insights

The 200 year fight continues

The cultural battle continues over the Elgin marbles, one of the finest collections of classical art.

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09 Sep 2016

From Insights

The curious incident of the Doig

An unusual art authenticity case has come to an end, pending any future appeal. The US Federal Court in Chicago has ruled that Peter Doig, whose paintings have earned ..

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09 Sep 2016

From Insights

Brexit and art law

There is enormous uncertainty about the impact of Brexit. In the art world, Brexit could mean changes to arts funding, the Artist’s Resale Right, copyright law, export..

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28 Jun 2016

From Insights

Parliament considers new law ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

On 18 May 2016, it was announced in the Queen’s Speech that the UK government would finally introduce a bill to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of ..

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28 Jun 2016

From Insights

Graffiti art continues to provoke legal battles worldwide

A dress worn by Katy Perry at last year’s gala has not only landed her in a number of “worst-dressed” lists but has also sparked a bitter legal dispute.

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28 Jun 2016

From Insights

Has the freedom of panorama been restricted?

If you take photographs in European public spaces, are you free to use those photographs as you wish? The answer to this question is actually very complex.

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28 Jun 2016

From Insights

French Court of Appeal refuses to compel the inclusion of a disputed Monet in a catalogue raisonné

The French Court of Appeal has refused an application to compel the inclusion of a riverscape, purportedly by Claude Monet, in a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s wor..

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05 Feb 2016

From Insights

Relief for art experts as French court finds author of catalogue raisonée not liable for opinion expressed outside of a transaction

On 3 December 2015, the Court of Appeal of Versailles overturned a judgment of the tribunal de grande instance de Nanterre which ordered art experts to pay over EUR 65..

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05 Feb 2016

From Insights

Cultural property – rules governing exports from the UK and the case of the portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet

In June 2015, an overseas buyer purchased Rembrandt's portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet for £35 million in a private sale through Sotheby's, London. The buyer subsequently..

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05 Feb 2016

From Insights

California Resale Royalty Act – Supreme Court refuses artists' appeal

On 11 January 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear an appeal against the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the California Re..

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05 Feb 2016

From Insights

Repeal of Section 52 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 - when will it happen and how?

Under CDPA artistic works are afforded copyright protection for 70 years from the end of the year in which the artist dies. However, section 52 CDPA limits the period ..

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26 Jan 2015

From Insights

Auction House duty to find a sleeper - Thwaytes v Sotheby’s [2015] EWHC 36 (Ch)

We look at an auction house's duty to find a "sleeper" (an undiscovered work of art).

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© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.