Legal Issues in Art: Avoiding Pitfalls in Transactions


Often collectors only discover legal issues with their artwork years after they purchase it, making it difficult, if not impossible, to remedy the situation.

As an art collector, it is important to be aware of the potential legal issues in art collecting. You know, the various different pitfalls that can arise in transactions involving artwork!

Art Authenticity

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing artwork is whether or not the piece is genuine. Unfortunately, there are many cases of fraud in the art world, where unscrupulous dealers sell counterfeit works or pass off forgeries as originals. To avoid being taken advantage of, always do your research and buy from reputable dealers. If you're unsure about a particular piece, you can always get it appraised by a qualified expert before making a purchase.

Art Valuation

Another key issue to be aware of is art valuation. When buying or selling art, it's important to have a clear understanding of the piece's market value. This can be difficult to determine, as art values can fluctuate significantly over time. However, there are a few steps you can take to get a general idea of what a work is worth. First, look at comparable sales prices for similar pieces of art. Second, consult an independent appraiser who specializes in fine art. By doing your homework, you can help ensure that you're paying a fair price for a piece - or receiving fair compensation if you're selling.

Title to Artwork

Finally, it's also important to be aware of the issue of title to artwork. This refers to who has the legal right to own or sell a particular work of art. In some cases, title may be held by the artist themselves; in others, it may be held by a gallery or collector. When buying artwork, always make sure that you obtain clear title from the seller. Otherwise, you may find yourself without legal recourse if the sale falls through or if there are any questions about the ownership of the piece.

By taking steps to avoid these three common legal pitfalls - authenticity, valuation and title to artwork - you can help ensure a smooth and successful transaction when buying or selling artworks. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of all the potential legal issues that can arise in art transactions; however, awareness of these key issues will go a long way in protecting your interests as an art collector.

Panel Discussed Legal Issues in Art: Amelia Brankov, Nica Gutman Rieppi and Emily A. Thompson

This discussion includes well-rounded litigator, Amelia Brankov; Nica Gutman Rieppi is the Manager of US Operations for Art Analysis and Research (US) LLC; and Emily A. Thompson is a Fine Art Specialist at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance. Join us as they discuss legal issues in art, particularly those that can arise with the purchase of art, the due diligence that collectors should perform before buying artwork, and ways to structure art transactions to reduce risk.

Attendees of this session will learn about:

  • Legal issues in art involving authenticity, valuation and title to artwork
  • Conducting pre-sale due diligence
  • Structuring art transactions to minimize risk

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Emily Thompson

Emily A. Thompson is a Fine Art Specialist at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance and its art advisory and appraisal firm, Fine Art Asset Management, with 20+ years of experience in art market research and valuation. Ms. Thompson has worked as a Senior Fine Art Appraiser at companies in the industry valuing artworks for the purpose of financial planning and donation, insurance coverage, and...

Meet the Expert

Nica Gutman Rieppi

Nica Gutman Rieppi is the Manager of US Operations for Art Analysis and Research (US) LLC, which specializes in the technical study of paintings using technical art history and science-based analytical approaches. She obtained a BA in Art History and French at Emory University, Atlanta, before studying for her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation at the State University...

Meet the Expert

Amelia Brankov

As a well-rounded litigator, Ms. Brankov helps businesses and individuals in the creative sector resolve a wide range of dispute-resolution matters. Her practice includes advising on complex disputes involving breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, copyright infringement, and the right of publicity. She has appeared in federal and state trial and appellate...

Meet the Expert