Trade in art and cultural goods

Be it a painting, a vintage car or a valuable violin – the purchase and sale as well as the import and export of art and cultural assets are associated with specific legal risks. We know the industries from years of experience and have the specialized expertise, for example in auction law, restitution law, cultural property law or vintage car law.

Auction Law

We advise auction houses, dealers and collectors on all questions of auction law. In the course of a consignment, we examine and accompany the consignment contract and, prior to bidding, the auction conditions. If a forgery, stolen property or Nazi looted art was auctioned, we examine the legal situation, take over the representation and find a solution. The same applies if the lot has hidden defects, such as restorations or new parts.

Transaction support

Selling at auction has two major disadvantages: it takes place in public and there are usually several weeks between consignment and acceptance of the bid. If you want to sell more quickly or if the seller is afraid of publicity, for example because he is afraid of drawing conclusions about his financial situation or because he does not want to “burn” the work of art, a private sale is the best option. We regularly accompany private sales, deliver, negotiate or review the necessary contracts and organize a secure exchange of performance and consideration.

Cultural Property Law

Depending on the type, age, value and significance, objects may fall under the import, export or trade prohibition of the Cultural Property Protection Act or trigger research obligations. We check the legal situation in each individual case or obtain the necessary permits from the relevant authorities. Incidentally, the cultural property regulations of the country of origin must always be checked. If objects are detained or confiscated by customs, we take over the representation under civil and criminal law.

Restitution Law

As one of the 44 signatory states of the so-called “Washington Declaration” of December 3, 1998, the Federal Republic of Germany has declared that it actively identifies cultural property in public collections that was seized as a result of Nazi persecution, locates its pre-war owners and finds a “just and fair solution” with them. This was followed by the Lost Art database, which makes search and find reports of looted art publicly available. If looted art is identified or acquired in a public or private collection, we provide advice and representation.

Classic car law

The value of a classic car depends not only on its condition but also on the originality and coherence of its individual parts. We are familiar with the case law on the requirements for “matching numbers”, check whether the classic car is legally an original, a replica or a forgery and what rights the buyer and seller have or point out obligations to examine and give notice of defects. We have years of experience with hidden defects and counterfeit classic cars and represent our clients in and out of court nationwide, especially in independent evidence proceedings and expert disputes.

Musical instruments

Valuable musical instruments, such as violins or cellos, are often purchased across national borders, only against receipts, without a purchase contract and without knowledge of the previous owners. If defects are discovered after the purchase, such as repaired cracks or replaced parts, the question arises as to exactly what condition the parties had agreed upon and which national law should apply. The same applies if third parties make claims of ownership, for example because the violin is stolen property or was seized as a result of Nazi persecution. We have this experience, accompanying transactions of musical instruments, drawing up sales contracts and representing clients nationwide in the event of a dispute.

Your contact persons for art and cultural goods trade

Does your concern relate to the trade in art and cultural property? Our experienced lawyers are at your disposal. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dr. Louis Rönsberg

„My strength: leading negotiations - strategically and efficiently.“

Dr. Louis Rönsberg
Rechtsanwalt (Lawyer), Partner
Certified Specialist Lawyer for Banking and Capital Market Law
(Fachanwalt für Bank- und Kapitalmarktrecht)
Certified Specialist Lawyer for Corporate and Commercial Law
(Fachanwalt für Handels- und Gesellschaftsrecht)

„My recipe for success: legal expertise, accuracy and solution-oriented, pragmatic thinking.“

Julia Obletter
Rechtsanwältin (Lawyer), Associate
Julia Obletter
Casual Friday Look