Art Litigation in London - Boodle Hatfield

Your lawyers since 1722

Art Litigation

The art world is an exciting market but disputes frequently arise over ownership, attribution, contracts or damaged art. Our leading art law team's blend of arts knowledge, legal expertise and specialist contacts ensures we get the best result for our clients.

Our art litigation experts advise on disputes over ownership and title, authenticity and provenance, misattributed or damaged artwork, insurance claims, restitution or holocaust claims, art fraud, loss of sale and associated losses, loan disputes, copyright and intellectual property, auction house negligence, injunctions to prevent sale and breach of contract.

Many of these matters are high profile and international in nature, involving lawyers from other jurisdictions. Some have received media coverage, including cases involving disputes over the authenticity of Old Masters, although many are settled confidentially out of Court, which is especially important in the art world.

We act for internationally recognised auction houses, but we have also forged a reputation as champions of consignees who have felt let down by the professional service that they have received.

Our specialisms include:

  • Professional negligence – Our team’s market knowledge and legal expertise has been key to advising on claims for professional negligence against leading auction houses relating to well-known Old Master paintings
  • Disputes over ownership – We regularly advise in situations where there is uncertainty over the ownership of a particular work of art, and have particular experience of acting quickly in situations when the object is due for auction, including obtaining injunctions to prevent sale where necessary
  • Recovery of paintings and other artworks – We have a proven track record in recovering paintings and other artworks, both in this jurisdiction and in cross-border cases, and of resolving issues over disputed title in cases involving auction houses, dealers and galleries
  • Disputes over authenticity and provenance – The art world is not always clear-cut and disputes over authenticity are widespread. We have in-depth experience of advising owners, galleries and purchasers about their rights and what action is appropriate, calling upon a network of art world experts as needed
  • Breach of contract, damage and/or loss of sale – We are experienced in resolving claims for breach of contract and/or breach of warranty of authority, or there is a loss of sale, whether that is because the seller failed to provide the work, the buyer failed to pay, or the artwork has been damaged.

We have been involved in a number of leading art litigation cases, dealing with claims for negligence and breach of duty against auction houses in relation to works of art by, for example, Titian and Caravaggio. More recently, we have acted in claims for artworks damaged on consignment.

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