Art & Cultural Property

LALIVE’s thriving art law practice has a long tradition dating back to the interest and engagement of the firm’s founders in this area. Today, we represent and advise collectors, galleries, dealers, museums, auction houses and governments. Our art lawyers negotiate, litigate and advise our clients on all legal issues related to fine art and the art world.

Although Swiss based, we routinely work across borders and are well-versed in multi-jurisdictional matters calling upon our network of specialist lawyers for support in other jurisdictions.

  • Restitution and looted art: We have built considerable experience in Holocaust-era and stolen art as well as in repatriation claims. We advise museums, collectors and families to clarify the provenance of disputed artworks, working towards fair and just solutions and establishing ownership rights judicially where necessary.
  • Buying and selling art: We advise collectors, dealers, galleries, museums, charitable organisations and auction houses on an array of legal issues connected with the buying and selling of fine art, antiques and other collectibles at private auction and privately.
  • Art due diligence: Regulatory and reputational due diligence becoming is increasingly important to preserve the art market. It is about managing legal and reputational risks. Having contributed to innovative initiatives in the art market on best practices, we apply the same practices when advising our clients on buying and selling fine art and the steps needed to be put in place for any art market operators, with proven experience in money laundering, antiquities trafficking, looted art and fakes.
  • Art as collateral: While art is a passion, it can also be an investment. We advise on a broad range of transactions involving art as an asset or as a collateral in loans to museums or loan against the value of an artwork.
  • Copyright issues: Planning and leaving your collection: Without adequate estate planning, collections built over years can be very quickly dismantled. Dissension among heirs may cause the collection to be divided, thus reducing its overall value, or tear families apart. To ensure its safe and peaceful passage through time, an art collection requires special adjustments and careful planning, with a long-term perspective and a clear sense of the underlying purpose. We can help you on a broad spectrum of issues including identifying and setting-up the appropriate structure for your collection, advising on governance issue and estate planning.
  • Representing a HNWI in relation to the acquisition of a valuable painting from a renowned painter in the context of possible recovery proceedings filed abroad by third parties claiming title to the painting, including foreign criminal authorities and issue of sovereign immunity
  • Representing the owner of a valuable painting acquired from an art gallery in a dispute against the heirs of the legatees of a similar painting, involving allegations of stolen property
  • Representing an UNHWI in relation to envisaged acquisitions of works of art of renowned painters, handling the negotiation of the transaction and the drafting of the contract under Swiss law, with a focus on authenticity and warranty issues
  • Representing a HNWI on the establishment of a legal entity to own a multimillion art collection, including advice related to the acquisition of selected art objects and the loan of gemstones worth several million. In all these cases, the firm structured and reviewed the loan and financing agreements, as well as closed the transactions
  • Representing one of the world’s leading art and fine arts auction houses in relation to the auction of a valuable object owned by a family of UHNWIs. The matter raised complex issues of validity of transfer of ownership under Swiss and foreign law and contract liability. The firm also provided pre-litigation advice in anticipation of the auction
  • Representing a Commonwealth Member State in the repatriation of a cultural treasure of national significance, recovered from a private art collection. The matter involved the structuring of the transaction mechanics through third party escrow arrangements and advice on related property law issues and on the export of cultural goods from Switzerland
  • Representing a Swiss museum in relation to the title over valuable work of arts and a recovery claim from the national museum of a European State which alleges that the works have been illegally exported to and acquired in Switzerland. The works of art were donated to the museum as a result of an art collector’s will. The matter involved complex private international law issues regarding transfer of property rights

Collect & Protect

Sandrine Giroud, Deborah Lechtman, Nigel Glenday, 2016

STEP Journal, August / September 2016 Vol. 24, Issue 7, pp. 52-53

Building an art market for the new era

Sandrine Giroud, Mathilde Heaton, 2016

Family Office ELITE, Winter edition, 2016, pp. 87-88

Raubkunst und die Schweiz: Aufarbeitung, Regelung, Ausblick

Teresa Giovannini, Marc-André Renold, Carolyn Olsburgh, Friederike Ringe, 2006

In: Sapper/Von Selle/Weichsel (Eds.), Kunst im Konflikt: Kriegsfolgen und Kooperationsfelder in Europa, Berlin, Deutscher Verlag, Osteuropa, 2006, pp. 341-353