Herrick is extremely proud to have one of the world's most prominent art and cultural property law practices, focused on complex art litigation and dispute resolution, and a broad range of corporate and commercial art law matters.

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Our art litigation practice is broad-based, ranging from basic contract disputes to complex domestic and international actions. We handle a variety of cases dealing with trademark and copyright infringement, defamation, moral and visual rights, breach of warranty, misattribution, tax and trust matters, valuations, appraisals, experts, auctions and other issues.

Our art litigation attorneys are also recognized throughout the world as leaders in the art recovery area. We have successfully resolved recovery claims on behalf of foreign governments, museums, the heirs of Holocaust victims, the heirs of famous artists and other claimants, and have recovered hundreds of lost and stolen antiquities and artworks, including:

  • The fabled "Lydian Hoard" of ancient silver artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for the Republic of Turkey.
  • The "Elmali Hoard" of extremely rare ancient silver coins from a major collector, also for the Republic of Turkey.
  • A thousand-year-old Mayan artifact for the Republic of Guatemala.
  • Several works by 20th century Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, from the City of Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art and the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, on behalf of Malevich's heirs.
  • Hundreds of artworks looted from the renowned Dutch art dealer, Jacques Goudstikker, during the Second World War. The works had been held by the Dutch Government for over 50 years.
  • A very favorable settlement in United States v. Portrait of Wally, one of the first cases to focus the world's attention on the problem of Nazi-looted art. We achieved a settlement for the heirs of Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray, which included $19 million in compensation for Egon Schiele's Portrait of Wally, and permanent signage acknowledging its true provenance in Vienna's Leopold Museum.

Commercial Art Practice

Our attorneys regularly counsel museums, art galleries, auction houses, dealers, artists, collectors and owners (both private and corporate, including estates, trusts, banks and financial institutions) and other clients on a variety of art-related issues, including contract, copyright, VARA, financing, authentication, insurance, title, attribution, trusts, and tax and estate planning questions, among others.

We represent clients in all types of art transactions, including the purchase, consignment, sale and auction of major works of art, domestic and international loans of significant objects of art and art collections, organizing and implementing major museum and private exhibitions, organizing and structuring business entities, preparing contracts involving emerging technologies and a variety of other activities. We also advise clients on criminal matters and international trade issues, including treaty questions and export, import and customs matters.

Our work involves insurance issues and, in many cases, coordinating with insurers. We have developed a close working relationship with both brokers and insurance company professionals in this highly specialized arena. We also advise clients on their insurance options and the various products and markets available. In addition, insurance professionals benefit from our experience in the recovery of stolen fine art. Some of our representative matters include:

  • Represented Neue Galerie New York in its historic acquisition of Gustav Klimt’s painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as The Woman in Gold. At the time it was reported to be the most valuable painting ever sold.
  • Represented The European Fine Arts Foundation (TEFAF) in the creation of TEFAF’s New York Fall 2016 Art Fair.
  • Represented the heirs of noted Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich in numerous auction sales over the course of 15 years, including the $60 million sale of Suprematist Composition (1916), which set a world record for Russian art.
  • Represented the Estate of Frances Lasker Brody in the historic sale of its art collection at Christie’s in 2010. The highlight of the sale was a Picasso masterwork, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which sold for a then auction record $106.5 million.
  • Represented a private art collector in one of the largest transfers of Mesoamerican art to a museum, including the assumption of the operations of the collector’s foundation dedicated to the study and advancement of Mesoamerican art.
  • Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of an internationally recognized art gallery concerning the authenticity of certain paintings bought and sold by the gallery.

Art Finance

Members of Herrick’s Art Law Group are preeminent advisors in the field of art finance. We are adept at handling the full range of art-based financings, including loans supported by a gallery or dealer’s inventory, as well as art loans originated by niche asset-based lenders. We also helped to forge the market for private bank facilities secured by the collections of high and ultra-high net worth collectors. We continue to be leaders in this evolving field – our team has worked on many significant loans supported by gallery and dealer inventories, as well as nearly $1 billion in loans originated by private banks and specialty art lenders, secured by the art of high-net-worth collectors. Some of our representative matters include:

  • Represented the private wealth management group of one of the nation’s largest financial institutions in an asset-based loan facility to an art gallery, secured by several artworks.
  • Represented entities affiliated with  a collector in a $150 million syndicated credit facility from three private  bank lenders, collateralized by an extensive art collection located in museums, galleries and warehouses across the world.
  • Represented a major financial institution in a term loan to a New York art gallery, secured by the gallery’s assets, as well as artworks from the gallery owner’s personal collection.
  • Represented the Geneva division of a major U.S. bank in a $100 million secured revolving credit facility, secured by a portfolio of artworks owned by a Cayman Islands trust.

For more information, download our Art Law brochure.