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Nossaman LLP

Art Law

Nossaman's Art Law Team provides experienced counsel to the art world on matters such as tax planning for purchases, sales, and museum loans and donations; insurance coverage advice in order to ensure  appropriate insurance coverage and in order to collect on claims; intellectual property issues relating to images and publication of one's art; corporate, real estate, employment and insolvency issues relating to collections and for-profit and nonprofit art entities; estate planning for, and probate and trust administration of, collections1; and litigation and resolution regarding (and due diligence to prevent) disputes involving title, provenance, authenticity, and condition in purchases, sales and museum loans.2 We represent a broad range of clients such as collectors and their heirs; museums and other art organizations and foundations; artists, galleries, dealers, auction houses and others who make the market for art; and financiers and lenders in the art world.

Major Art Collectors
Art connoisseurs develop collections of distinction through a fine eye and passionate pursuit of focused interests over decades. They become custodians of extraordinary art with a moral duty to care for their collections. Proper care for and utilization of such collections involve planning, care and prudence which require expert services by lawyers knowledgeable about art, the art world, collecting, arts transactions, museums, galleries, dealers and auctions.

Museum Foundations and Public Art Organizations
Museums hold collections of major cultural significance to all of us and forge their missions around their collections. Private foundation and public art organizations provide essential support to art preservation and to today’s thriving art community. They require unique legal services in support of their non-profit and public missions, responsibilities and policy development and implementation, and more generic legal services relating to real estate, employment, and other business issues and (occasionally) in dispute resolution or litigation.

Artists, Galleries, Dealers, Auction Houses and Appraisers; Those Who Make the Art Market
Artists, galleries, dealers, auctions houses and appraisers make the art market. Their role is crucial to maintaining a high interest in and appreciation of the arts which in turn support today's artists and preservation of the art of past generations, all for the benefit of future generations. They need of the full range of legal services applicable to all businesses, but also need attorneys with particular knowledge about their particular art and art issues. We are here to help

Scope of Legal Services
Particular legal services of which owners of major arts collections may have need in which the Nossaman Art Law Team has in-depth expertise, include or relate to the following:

  • Appraisals and valuation issues
  • Artists' rights (including “droit de suite” and similar royalty rights upon resale)
  • Auction transactions
  • Authenticity and attribution
  • Commissions on art sales
  • Consignment documentation and disputes
  • Copyright, on-line art distribution, images and alterations
  • Criminal liability issues
  • Cultural patrimony including Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (“NAGPRA”) and international repatriation
  • Donations to and deaccessions by museums
  • Estate planning and contests
  • eBay and other on-line transactions
  • Employment issues (including compensation planning, benefits, and issues relating to volunteer and part-time personnel 
  • Endangered species
  • Forgeries, restorations and reproductions
  • Fraud, negligent misrepresentation, warranties (express and implied)
  • Import, export and customs issues
  • Insurance placement, advice and recovery 
  • Loans on art collateral
  • Nonprofit formation, operation, and application for and maintenance of tax-exempt status (including private foundations, private operation foundations and “publicly supported” museums)
  • Real estate issues related to art collections and venues
  • Right of publicity in licensing, display and acquisition
  • Statutes of limitation (e.g. California Museum Loan Statute)
  • Stolen, looted or smuggled art
  • Tax audits (income, estate, gift and sales/use) 
  • Tax planning and advice (including sales and use taxes and section 1031 “like-kind” exchanges) 


1 Nossaman LLP teams with GillPierson, LLP (Elizabeth T. Pierson and Michael J. Gill) regarding estate planning, probate and trust administration expertise especially within GillPierson's purview. In such circumstances, a client retains each firm separately. While the firms cooperate closely to deliver legal services to the client efficiently and seamlessly, neither Nossaman LLP nor GillPierson, LLP is responsible for the services rendered to the client by the other; instead, each firm is solely responsible to the client for that firm's professional services.
2 Nossaman LLP also teams with Michael Heumann of Michael Heumann Art Law regarding title, provenance, authenticity, and condition expertise and museum and NAGPRA issues especially within Mr. Heumann’s purview. In such circumstances, a client retains each firm separately. While the firms cooperate closely to deliver legal services to the client efficiently and seamlessly, neither Nossaman LLP nor The Law Offices of Michael Heumann is responsible for the services rendered to the client by the other; instead, each firm is solely responsible to the client for that firm's professional services. Mr. Heumann is a former Managing Partner of Nossaman, and is an avid collector of Native American art and long-standing board member of the Autry Museum of the American West.

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