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Art Disputes

Art Disputes

Disputes over art and cultural property have been on the rise significantly in the past few years. There have also been a number of high profile examples, including the long-running dispute over the ownership of Henri Matisse’s 1908 masterpiece Greta Moll between Moll’s grandchildren and the National Gallery in London, as well as the closure of the Knoedler gallery, which was one of the oldest in the US, after it was discovered numerous fake paintings had been sold.

The art disputes solicitors at Selachii are experts in this area of law. We understand how important it is that your most valuable personal and business assets are protected. Our team provide high-quality advice on the full range of contentious matters involved in art disputes, from ownership to authenticity, and strive to get you the quickest, least disruptive and most affordable solution. We have a wealth of experience representing private collectors, auction houses, dealers, galleries and artists involved in art disputes. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Art Disputes UK – Contentious Matters

Ownership and title disputes

Cases of disputed title are not always easy to resolve, especially where a third party claims to be the owner of the artwork in question. It is especially important that art dealers and auction houses know who the true owner is or they could be in breach of warranty of authority (i.e. selling items without the proper authority). In cases where there is uncertainty over the rightful owner, our solicitors will efficiently examine all the evidence, work with our body of experts and build a strong strategy to support our client’s position.

Authenticity and provenance

Where concerns are raised regarding the authenticity of a work of art, if you are the owner or a potential buyer it is important to be aware of your rights and how best to protect them. Owners of unauthentic artwork may be able to claim for damages for the seller’s misrepresentation. Galleries and dealers accused of misrepresentation should seek legal advice without delay to ensure they are compliant with their legal obligations and that they have strong representation in case of litigation.

Misattributed artwork

Where a painting, sculpture or other creation is attributed to the wrong artist, this can leave the seller exposed to compensation claims for misrepresentation. The offence of misrepresentation is committed where a person (A) makes a false statement which induces another person (B) to enter into a contract with A, causing loss to B. The misrepresentation can be made knowingly or negligently. We can advise both owners and sellers on the best course of action in these situations to ensure their interests are protected.

Art fraud

Art fraud covers situations where fakes and forgeries are produced and sold, and where works of art are intentionally sold for more than they are worth. Victims of art fraud may be able to seek compensation through civil or criminal proceedings, yet the criminal route is often preferred in order to make use of the Court’s powers to grant confiscation and restraint orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. A conviction for art fraud can lead to a prison sentence in the most serious cases. If you are suspected of committing art fraud you must seek expert legal advice today to ensure you are fairly represented.

Loss of sale and associated losses

These disputes typically occur where there is a breach of contract, for example where a gallery and delivery company are parties to a contract and artwork is lost or damaged while in transit. These cases require expert legal advice and representation to ensure the full extent of the damage and loss is taken into account in an out-of-court settlement or award for damages. 

Auctioneers’ liability

Auctioneers owe a duty of care to consigners when assessing and selling works of art. Where the actions of the auction house are found to fall below the standard expected, it could be deemed that the auctioneers acted negligently and are in breach of contract. The key factor in these cases is the scope of the standard of care expected, which will depend on the individual circumstances. In a leading case on this matter, Thwaytes v Sotheby’s, it was established that the more renowned the auction house, the higher the standard of care.

Expert Art Dispute Advice and Representation, London

Art litigation is a complex area of the law, usually involving high levels of sentimental and financial value. That is why it is important to get the best possible advice from solicitors who specialise in this intricate and niche area. Our solicitors will build a robust strategy, calling on our body of expert witnesses where appropriate, to give you the best chance of achieving the outcome you need. We will help you get a swift and successful conclusion to your matter through dispute resolution, whether that be in the form of negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.

Contact our Art Dispute Litigation Lawyers, London

If you are involved in an art dispute and you need specialist advice, please contact our solicitors today. Call us on 020 7792 5649 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How Selachii Can Help

Selachii is a dynamic litigation and dispute resolution law firm based in Kensington, London. We put the best interests of our clients at the heart of everything we do. We work with both businesses and private individuals, giving them legal advice and support which is unique to them and their situation.

We don’t believe in simply handing out one-size-fits-all solutions to problems. We will focus on your specific circumstances before working out the best and most cost-effective way of helping you achieve your aims.

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