6 Tips for Hanging Wall Art in Your Home

One of the easiest ways to make your home feel more welcoming and comfortable is to add some wall art. Even a couple of pieces can make the whole room look surprisingly homier. But, if you want to incorporate art into your home properly, you need to keep in mind a couple of things. So, to help you out, we will cover the six most important tips for hanging wall art in your home.

Hanging wall art in your home – what to keep in mind

You should consider the following tips as helpful guidelines for hanging wall art in your home. By no means should you regard these tips as rules set in stone. After all, the whole point of having art is to be creative and to feel the freedom to express yourself.

It is important to mention, though, that these tips are based on tried and true interior designers’ methods. So, while you don’t have to follow our tips, at least have them in mind when you decorate your home next time.

Keep artwork at eye level

The first and easiest tip is to keep your art at eye level. The whole point of incorporating art into your home is for you and the people close to you to look at it. And the last thing you need is to strain your neck in order to see the art well. 

If you cannot position all of your pieces at a height approximately the same as your eyes, try to pick the most presentable ones. Know that people’s attention will naturally go to the work of art they can look at directly. So, use the one piece that is most deserving of such attention.

Follow the shape of the wall

The impression you want to make is that a piece of art looks as if it has been made for the wall it is hanging on. To achieve this, you should take into account the shape and size of the wall. A large, square wall is perfectly suited for one large picture or a panel of multiple smaller ones. A wall that is taller than it is wide should take paintings of the same shape. Ideally, you should always follow the form of the wall. Alternatively, you can use smaller, square-shaped pictures and arrange them to suit the shape of the wall.

Consider the room color

One of the more important tips to keep in mind is that your art pieces aren’t isolated. If you are to situate them in your home adequately, you need to take a close look at the room you want to place them. Your art should flow naturally with your room. It means that it mustn’t clash with the color so that it becomes uncomfortable to look at. Conversely, it shouldn’t blend in so much that it is practically invisible. The goal here is to find the golden mean.

Your art should be attractive so that people notice it when they enter the room. If the space has a certain feel to it, your art should be in accordance with it, enhancing the vibe of the place. This is usually not something that you can figure out immediately, which is why you should experiment until you find the right piece.

Pick proper frames

Arguably, frames are the most overlooked aspect of wall art. People often consider them unimportant as they serve to protect the picture. And while having sturdy frames will help professionals handle such valuable items, if you need to move them, you need to think beyond mere safety when you are incorporating art into your home. After all, in case of a relocation, you will hire professionals to handle your art for you precisely for safety reasons.

So, keep in mind that frames play a significant role in how people perceive your art and its place in your home. Ideally, you should use the same material for your frame as the furniture in your home. If you have wooden furniture, use wooden frames in the same or similar color. If you have metal or plastic details, use metal or plastic frames. Having the right frame will help your art feel more like a part of the whole room and not make it stick out.

Choose wall art that matters

A common mistake that people make is that they place art in their homes solely for the sake of having it. While having art in your home is better than not having it at all, you shouldn’t focus on the mere looks of it. Every piece is an idea or emotion that the artist has incorporated into canvas. Therefore, you should do your best to find art that speaks to you.

A good work of art will cause you to pause while looking at it and experience something. The less you can put into words the precise feeling you are experiencing, the more you should work towards incorporating that piece into your home. After all, art is supposed to be about getting to know ourselves and our inner thoughts and emotions, not making our environment look nicer (although it is an important aspect of it). It would be even better to incorporate an interesting comic art in place of a boring painting that nobody cares about. The person who understands this will value your home much more when they witness such art. Value quality more than quantity, and look for the meaning in your artwork rather than its appearance.  

Avoid kitsch art

The final tip for hanging wall art in your home is to avoid kitsch. Here we play into the previous advice regarding using art that matters. Yes, it would help if you had art that makes you feel good, but try to avoid blindly following trends. A good aesthete knows a bit about art history and will do their best to find pieces of art that work for their home, no matter whether they are trendy or not. And finally, if you find an expensive piece, consider contacting us and getting proper art insurance. In the long-run, you’ll be happy that you did.

Once your prized art is hung, make sure you have the proper coverage to protect it. Most homeowners insurance policies cover jewelry, art and collections the same as any other possession, subject to your policy’s deductible and coverage limits. For example, most homeowners policies limit coverage for possessions to up to 75% of your dwelling coverage.

So if you have a policy that provides $100,000 in coverage for your home, you’d also have no more than $75,000 in coverage for all of your possessions. And the policy may cover only the depreciated value of the items, not the replacement cost — and that can make a big difference with something like fine-art, which can appreciate with age.

Get your free quote from ArtInsuranceNow.com Trusted one stop insurance for the art community by clicking the link below.

Avoiding Online Art Fraud

The following are excerpts from our Principal William G. Fleischer’s Q&A interview with renowned online art site, Artsy.

Artsy features the world’s leading galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs, and benefit auctions, all in one place.  William represents leading art insurers like: AXA, Travelers, Chubb, XL-Catlin, ARIS, Philadelphia, Tokyo Marine, Markel, Hartford, and Berkeley, just to name a few. He has been honored by Insurance Business Magazine as a top Fine-Art Insurance broker. 

1. How do you assess who is at fault in the case of online fraud?

It’s always the seller, and what does that mean? It means it could be an auction house, gallery, dealer, artist, or collector. It only takes one to commit fraud and fool the rest.

Anyone selling art or buying art has the exposure of fraud. Both parties must do their due diligence, such as verifying provenance, artist catalog raisonné, and authenticity certifications. If the art has an appraisal, then verify that it is not photoshop or touched up. To make sure one does all they can to confirm the authenticity, these are some resources: contacting the appraiser, establishing the comparisons, and researching the appraiser to avoid possibly buying or selling a fake.    

Some art dealers try to do a soft touch by requiring sellers/consignees to sign documents regarding titles, conditions, and appraisals to endorse that they are true. The more you inform yourself, the better; you can never do too much research or ask too many questions.  

When it comes to fraudulent art coverage, not all art policies cover fraudulent artwork; it is considered contraband, and selling contraband is illegal. If the work is scheduled for your collector’s policy and is found to be fake, there is no misrepresentation coverage. If you have a blanket policy, you will be paid for the fake market value. So buying and selling fake art is legal as long as you disclose it as a replica.

2. How have your policies adapted to cybersecurity breaches in the art market?

The traditional Art insurance policy has not adopted to cyber exposures. The insurance industry developed a special Cyber Liability Policy focusing on cyber-crime exposure. This policy pertains to identity theft, ransomware (when someone locks you out from your data, emails, network, etc.) extortion, stealing secrets passwords, defacing websites, and virus attacks. 

3. How recent is this sector in the field of insurance?

Cyber is about ten years old. With the proliferation of online business, there has been a growth of hackers, viruses, and extortionists. The increase has risen so significantly that our government has created requirements for firms to follow to protect consumers.

As for online fraud, it has been around since the time you could upload pictures to the web, and Adobe Photoshop was developed. This has caused many issues from wiring, bounced checks, and even sending empty boxes to purchasers.

4. How long has ArtInsuranceNow.com been involved in this aspect of insuring artworks? 

We have been insuring online art dealers for the past seven years. It has grown into a vertical marketplace. Everyone is selling online, including artists, collectors, auction houses, galleries, dealers, and even art stores.

Each has its own unique exposures to fraud. Keep in mind that not all policies are the same. Be sure to check if your policy addresses your requirements like online transit coverage, method of valuation at time of loss calculations, or covering your art inventory on and off the premises.

5. Do you see a greater need for this kind of protection in the industry?

For Cyber, yes. New York State has joined other states imposing a cyber law called “Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security.” (Shield) https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/new-york-shield-act.aspx this requirement enforces that all employers to have a plan preventing breaches to their computers, networks, and associated vendors accounts.

This is a forever ending battle between hackers and online transactions. As for the actual exchange of art, there have been talks of blockchains, but it’s too young of a concept and still unproven to be used as a standard in today’s art transactions. 

6. Can you provide some examples of cybersecurity cases you’ve had to handle? 

I have not handled any cyber claims directly, but I am aware of a few: 

A hacker was able to enter the data of a large firm. They then posted the information on a social media website for everyone to read. The leaked information included: what they purchased, addresses, the items they sent, family members, affairs, second homes, and other nonpublic notes in a client file.

This was a clear breach of confidential information. Although it was not their fault, the firm was sued because a spouse learned of an affair and asked for a divorce. Another lawsuit was served because a private loan against the art was shared, which tainted their reputation. All in all, this breach caused multiple cases.

Another case brought to my attention was a prominent online dealer who was hacked by ransomware (explained above). It was very costly to pay. They locked him and his staff out of their management system, websites, all email accounts, and their access to vendors.

The business was frozen until the ransom was paid. The dealer did have the option to rebuild his systems from scratch, but it would be time-consuming, and with these delicate matters, time is of the essence.

The last I will share case occurred with a museum. A director was out of town on business, a hacker got into her email and sent a request to wire money to the controller to purchase art work. Just like that, the transfer was done, and the Museum lost $30,000.

7. What should collectors keep an eye out for regarding insurance when collecting online?

For fraud, they should keep an eye out for: the reputation of seller and buyer, the person or company who does the appraisals, condition reports, how the art is packed, whether the items are on the government forbidden list (like ivory), and complaints. 

When it comes to cybersecurity, confirm: if there is a security in place, preventing attacks.If the second or third party provides software against breaches to their system, if there are approved certificates on their website, and have a separate bank wire account for just purchases.

Be sure to have firewalls on your computer, verify before opening embedded links by looking at the URL where it is coming from? Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Before clicking any link, go with your gut. When in doubt, don’t click.

We work with “A” rated Insurance Companies to ensure art collectors, galleries, museums, dealers, artists, and auctioneers that their works are properly taken care of. Get your free quote below.

Guide to packing art & antiques like a pro

Art and antiques are an amazing investment and a beautiful part of your home. However, when it comes to relocating them to another home or gallery, people are faced with the problem of packing. Most people make the mistake of packing these items in the same way as the other things in their homes. This way, they increase the risk of damaging valuable items and therefore losing their favorite objects. So, to make sure your valuable belongings are safe during transport, learn to pack them properly. Here’s a simple guide to packing art and antiques like a pro – the easy way.

Give yourself enough time

The biggest mistake you can make when packing art and antiques is to do it in a rush. We may indeed be faced with deadlines we have to meet and they require speed and efficiency, but these fragile and valuable items require patience. Therefore, try to give yourself enough time to pack everything properly. A few extra steps and secure packing techniques will ensure that your items are safe during transport and you don’t damage them while packing.

Make an inventory list

Another pro tip is to know exactly what you’re moving – especially when packing antiques and other valuables. This might seem like an extra step that you don’t need, but it has proved to be very useful for many. Therefore, if you’re packing more than one item, or moving the entire house or a gallery, make sure you write down all the items you’re packing. To make things easier – you can use an app to make your inventory list.

Know the value of your items

 When moving art and antiques, it’s necessary to know the worth of the art pieces you have. Make sure you get an appraisal from a professional and be ready if anything happens to the items during transport.

Before packing art and antiques, inform on the number and worth of your items – and obtain the necessary insurance.

Prepare all the tools and supplies

To pack fragile items, make sure you’re ready to start the process – especially if there are a lot of them. It’s necessary to get all the supplies you’ll need to pack everything safely, so once you start packing, you don’t need to take a break and go to the store, but can finish everything in one take. To start packing art and antiques like a pro, you’ll need:

  • moving boxes – if you’re not buying new boxes but getting used ones, make sure you check if they are in good condition.
  • packing paper – get a lot of it, to protect the items properly.
  • tape – use heavy-duty tape, to ensure none of the boxes open during transport.
  • corner protectors – these are very useful when packing paintings, fragile frames, and mirrors.
  • a microfiber cloth – use this to clean the items before you wrap them, and make sure the wrapping will stay tight on the item.
  • foam/stretch wrap, blankets, bubble wrap – use it to wrap the items and keep them clean and safe from vibrations and tumbling.
  • furniture pads – depending on the sort of items you’re moving, obtain furniture pads of appropriate sizes.
  • markers – make sure you label every box properly. Write the contents of it, but also mark the box with the word ‘fragile’.
Fragile items take time to pack – remember that when packing art and antiques for a move.

In case you can’t get all the supplies, or don’t know how to use them properly, contacting a pro is the safest thing you can do. Don’t make this mistake if you need to relocate your collection that is valuable and irreplaceable. The right supplies combined with an expert packing technique is the key to a safe relocation of valuable art pieces and antiques.

Obtain art insurance

To ensure your items are properly covered in case of damage or loss, getting appropriate insurance is a necessary step. Whether you’re a professional or moving a private art collection, fine art insurance from a reliable broker will give you peace of mind.

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Packing fragile art and antiques – all the steps

When the time comes for packing art and antiques, you shouldn’t be tricked by the age of certain items. Even though something is very old and has survived for many years, it doesn’t mean it’s strong as before.  Antique items are very fragile, and investing time and effort in protecting them during transport will surely pay off. These are the steps that will protect most of your fragile items:

  1. clean the items – use a cloth to carefully wipe the item so the layers of protection can adhere properly.
  2. wrap the item with a protective wrap – even though this step can’t protect the item from breaking, it can surely keep it clean, and free from scratches.
  3. wrap the item with a blanket, a sheet of plastic bubbles, or foam – these will minimize the vibrations during the transport.
  4. put the item in a protective shell – if you don’t have the original packaging, use a sturdy moving box, or ideally a wooden crate. This final step will give the strongest protection from tumbling and other sudden movements.
  5. minimize the risk of damage by loading the fragile items last, and getting them out of the vehicle first.

Should you disassemble antique furniture?

When it comes to moving furniture, it’s often much better to move it in separate pieces. However, with antiques, that’s not the case. As we mentioned, old items have survived for a long time, but they are very fragile and every sudden movement or strong pressure is extremely risky. Therefore, invest in additional packing material, or simply hire a moving professional to help you out. Make sure to choose the safest option, since antique pieces are irreplaceable and should be well-protected during transport.

The Importance of Art Transit & Insurance

Art collectors, museums, galleries, artists, dealers, and auctioneers have one interest in common – The love, and preservation of art. The latter is what proper art insurance is for. A knowledgeable broker will know how to meet your requirements and make sure that your valuable possessions are insured against unforeseen damage and loss.

Risk management in the world of art

Knowing the perils of owning art and how damage can be prevented is crucial for risk management in the art world. In other words, you will not know how to protect your valuable art if you are unaware of the risks. That’s why ArtInsuranceNow.com is here to help clients choose the right type of insurance tailored to their situation. 

Why should an artist or collector have to be familiar with insurance terminology in order to choose proper coverage, when they have a team that is at their service who will recommend coverage based upon their unique situation? There is another necessary step to set up a solid risk management framework, and that is hiring experienced art movers to transport your art. According to top art insurance carriers, most accidents involving art occur during transport making up to 60% of insurance claims. For mitigation of this risk, you will require qualified art movers to handle conveyance.

Do you know the true value of your art collection?

Even though you know the sentimental value of your art piece or collection, you will probably not be able to determine its market value until you get it properly appraised. Don’t have an appraisal? we can still write a policy but at the time of loss, you must prove the value. ArtInsuranceNow.com can present accurate coverage that is suited to you. This provides cost-effective, comprehensive protection. It is essential to have a policy that covers damage and loss on or off-premises, during transport, in storage, and while the art is being exhibited or auctioned.

Accidents Happen

The true importance of having proper art insurance can be seen when an unfortunate event occurs. The smart thing to do is to think ahead and get the stellar coverage and exceptional service ArtInsuranceNow.com offers. There are many perils that your art can be exposed to, some examples are:


Art trafficking is one of the most prosperous criminal acts. It has been so from ancient times and unfortunately, it still is. Having proper art insurance cannot replace what has been lost but it will help you recover your investment.


All types of art can be precious, but some are much more delicate than others. You can never be too careful when protecting your valuables. Misfortune happens and we rarely see it coming. Art pieces can be completely destroyed or get ruined and lose all value in many ways, here are just a few:

  • Floods,
  • Fires,
  • Natural disasters
  • Fraud
  • Heist
  • Inadequate handling


Most damage to art happens in transit. Yes, movers can destroy your precious items. Whether it is due to incompetence or simply by accident, movers can damage or destroy the items you care so much about. So, be careful when hiring someone to relocate your valuable pieces of art. A good practice is to have a list of questions to ask before making a final decision about who will perform your relocation. Ask your friends for recommendations and call at least three companies to see what they offer. You can even contact the nearest gallery or museum and ask them for advice.

Transportation of fine-art pieces is the riskiest part of the relocation, but your movers should also be careful when packing and unpacking. Preparing art for relocation is a delicate task and it should never be done under pressure. That is why you should never try to self-transport your valuable items. Hiring fine art movers might seem expensive, but can you really put a price tag on peace of mind? It only takes one mistake to ruin an important work of art.

Ask your movers to describe the entire moving process to you. Will they come and see your art pieces before the relocation date so that they can make a plan? What kind of materials are they planning on using? Is the moving truck temperature controlled? Feel free to ask whatever comes to mind. After all, it is your art collection and you have the right to know.

Having the combination of proper art insurance along with qualified art movers means that you can rest assured that your art is covered for unforeseen circumstances and is in good hands when being transported. Risk management is the best investment you can make, for an extensive collection or just the precious piece of art you inherited from a relative.

Why use Fine-Art Movers?

Relocation is a complicated process that is emotionally, physically, and financially highly demanding. Owners of an impressive fine art collection have to face a serious challenge once the relocation becomes inevitable. Bearing in mind the sentimental and monetary value of the works of art in your possession, opting for a do-it-yourself move is an unreasonable and a very risky decision. You need genuine professionals who guarantee a smooth, trouble and stress-free relocation of your precious pieces and thus provide you with so much needed peace of mind. Here is a further explanation of why it is necessary to hire fine art movers for this endeavor.

Expert teams handle fine-art with the utmost care

As a passionate art collector, you must be aware of the fact that each and every work of art is unique and, thus, requires unique handling. Hiring movers who are not experienced and knowledgeable enough to handle your valuable art collection may have severe consequences. To be able to respond to this task properly and orchestrate and conduct the relocation successfully, movers have to be well-trained to handle artwork through each one of the relocation stages. Competent expert teams know how to apply proper packing techniques to provide your items with the utmost safety. They know how to install and deinstall fine art pieces, which is also critical in this process. Hence, only these expert teams can offer the impeccable service of moving your fine-art collection with success.

Proper packing is essential

Protecting your art collection is important at all times and the process of relocation is no exception. By using proper packing techniques and premium quality, non-abrasive packing materials, fine art movers reduce the chances of potential damage to a minimum. If necessary, they are trained to apply custom crating to make your art pieces perfectly safe while in transit. Designing and building these custom crates is one of the challenges regular furniture movers are not able to meet. Should any damage happen to your art collection, it might be considerably more expensive than hiring these specialized professionals for the job. Hence, investing in professional services is an intelligent choice. 

Expertise and accountability during fine art transportation

Whether you are moving your art collection a block or thousands of miles away, it is vital to manage all the risks while your artwork is in transit. Hiring fine art movers is a good strategy to achieve this because these experienced and skilled professionals are well-acquainted with a wide range of practices in accordance with the intrinsic nature of artwork. They are obliged to follow strict procedures and document every step of the moving process for quality assurance purposes. When necessary, they use elevating cranes for heavy and awkwardly-shaped pieces or even obtain a special license to block a street while the installation of an art piece at a final destination is in progress. Understandably, this is something unachievable for ordinary furniture movers. 

Furthermore, fine art movers transport your art collection in climate-controlled trucks and are ready for every contingency.  Concerning the value of your collection, this is certainly a cost-effective solution given the circumstances.

Proper insurance against damage and theft

Proper insurance and taking precaution measures against damage and theft are of key importance while the relocation of your art collection is in progress. If you hire fine art movers, you are presented with numerous options and a great variety of additional coverage that guarantees maximal protection to your valuable possessions. Reputable companies of fine art movers also offer moving trucks with GPS capability and a proper alarm system. The personnel involved in the process is always subject to a thorough background check that will witness their credibility and capability to conduct this task. In the case when you relocate art pieces of considerable value and importance, fine art movers organize police escort and armed guards for the utmost safety of your belongings. To be precise, they tailor the whole process to suit your needs, requirements, and financial means at your disposal.

Premium storage services

Finding the highest-quality fine-art storage facilities is a very challenging errand since you cannot entrust your valuable collection to anyone without carefully analyzing all the options available. Fine art is very delicate, sensitive to temperature changes, humidity, dirt, and pests, so you need a facility that provides satisfying conditions that will not cause any unwelcome changes and eventually diminish the aesthetic or monetary value of your art pieces. If you opt for hiring fine art movers, you choose expertise over amateurism. They are familiar with all the conditions a top-quality storage unit has to meet to become the choice of distrustful collectors who only want the best for their collections. 

The safe and carefully planned installation

Installation of your fine art collection, once it arrives at the final destination, is much more than simple unpacking and randomly choosing a place for each piece. Fine art movers are trained to analyze the interior in detail and then provide you with a wide range of art installation options given the circumstances. They find the best places to hang your beautiful paintings or to install massive and heavy sculptures.

 Fine art movers also identify the need to use special equipment for these tasks. They can detect the type of hardware necessary, for example, to keep your paintings safely in place according to their weight.  Prior to commencing the whole process, these professionals visit the final destination to be able to make a thorough plan. Since fragile, delicate, and highly valuable pieces are in question, having professional assistance is the warranty you need to relax and be sure the move will be completed utterly to your satisfaction.

Final words on the reasons to hire fine art movers

All factors considered, it is clearly evident that entrusting amateurs with relocating your fine-art collection is an unreasonable and unwise decision which might result in irreparable loss. Conduct a thorough search, explore reviews, ask for references to find the most reputable fine art movers you can trust with this complex task. Only this approach can guarantee the successful completion of this endeavor and the safe arrival of your precious pieces to their final destination in a timely manner.

Disclaimer: This article includes a link that will bring visitors to a third party website, owned and operated by an independent party over which Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. has no control (“3rd Party Website”). Any use of the 3rd Party Website will be subject to and any information you provide will be governed by the terms of the 3rd Party Website, including those relating to confidentiality, data privacy, and security.

Great Coverage and Great Service at ArtInsuranceNow.com

The Artist, Collector, Gallerist, or Art Dealer knows the intrinsic value in knowledgeable customer service. And they find it at ArtInsuranceNow.com

Patricia is a 40-year-old owner of a small but valuable collection of paintings. She says “I feel like ArtInsuranceNow.com makes things easy for me in a way that insurance companies don’t necessarily offer,” She’s been with ArtInsuranceNow.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. for eight years and worked with two different individuals from the firm over that time, and she’s quite happy with the outcome. “They’re amazing,” she said. “They always help me whenever I have issues.”

Theoretically, she fits the industry model of a savvy customer that shouldn’t care for the ‘old’ model of buying insurance through an agent or broker. “There are all these vagaries and insurance jargon that I don’t need to have in my head because I have actual humans that are familiar with the industry and familiar with what my needs are as a collector”.

Get the Right Art Coverage

Many people are not getting the right art insurance, because they’re just clicking on a product and buying it without understanding what they’re getting. Art insurance can be a complex product and it can cover many things – transit, exhibitions, art auctions, etc. it is all types of things. Because of this, horror stories emerge from people who thought they had the right coverage but then ended up stuck because they didn’t understand the fine print.

No one wants to lose a piece of art but it happens, more often than we’d like to see so the best way to protect your art is with due diligence and a Fine-Art policy from ArtInsuranceNow.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. We can guide you in obtaining the right fine art insurance for your unique requirements at great rates. For more info visit www.artinsurancenow.com and live chat with us, call us at 800.921.1008 or apply for a free quote below.

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William G. Fleischer and Bernard Fleischer & Sons, Inc. named a top specialist broker for 2020.

Insurance Business Magazine, the leading business magazine for today’s sophisticated commercial Insurance Broker names William G. Fleischer and Bernard Fleischer & Sons, Inc. a top specialist broker for 2020. Read the article HERE 

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Service is our top priority when it comes to our clientele, and it shows. A glance at our 5-Star Google reviews reveals unmatched customer satisfaction. 

Contact Bernard Fleischer & Sons, Inc. when you require a knowledgeable insurance broker that handles Fine Art, Surety Bonds and everything in between. Visit us for art insurance at ArtInsuranceNow.com and commercial Surety at BFBond.com or call 800-921-1008

In the wake of Notre Dame: Protecting our Cultural Treasures

The fire that has destroyed Notre Dame is not the first incident to affect a site of great cultural and historical value. Unfortunately, it will not be the last. Just last year, we saw a fire destroy up to 90% of the precious artifacts and other items housed in the National Museum of Brazil. Our cultural institutions are under threat from a variety of risks both natural and manmade. What can we do to better protect our cultural treasures?

Works of art in buildings such as the Notre Dame cathedral are generally not insured because they are often priceless. Any artworks on loan from third parties would, however, be insured. While some of the large paintings at Notre-Dame could not be taken down in time, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said at the scene of the fire that a number of the many artworks in the cathedral had been rescued and were being put in safe storage.

Heritage sites, cultural institutions, independent galleries, collectors, and artists are uniquely vulnerable and often underprepared. Many cultural institutions have few resources or time to invest in preparedness and emergency response programs. While no amount of money in insurance payouts will bring back a lost stained-glass window or other masterpieces, not having insurance or not enough insurance is an even greater threat to works of art. For this reason, We at ArtInsuranceNow.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. are raising awareness to the owners of cultural items such as fine-art and collectibles on just how important having the proper coverage is.

A valuable tool to have is a knowledgeable fine-art and collectibles insurance broker to guide you in the process of managing your risk. Insuring art requires an experienced broker that knows how to navigate the often-confusing details of high-value insurance. At ArtInsuranceNow.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. we know art, and what it takes to insure it properly so you don’t have to. We are your resource and can answer any questions you may have regarding the protection of art and items of cultural significance.

Visit us at ArtInsuranceNow.com to live chat with a professional or call us at 800-921-1008 to speak to a friendly voice that can guide you through the process of risk management.

Art Law Guide

Art law is multidisciplinary and encompasses numerous areas of law. Those involved in the practice of art law look at a variety of disciplines, such as intellectual property, contract, constitutional, tort, tax, and international law to protect the interest of their clients.

The following is an art law primer and topics of interest to those who collect, sell, and create art.

Buying and selling

Passing of title

When does ownership of art, antiques, and collectibles pass from seller to buyer?

Title typically passes from seller to buyer upon payment of the purchase price in full. The parties can agree, in the contract, on a different triggering event, such as acceptance following inspection, receipt upon delivery post-shipping or other transfer.

An implied warranty of title

Does the law of your jurisdiction provide that the seller gives the buyer an implied warranty of title?

Under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which governs sales of goods, a seller gives a buyer both express warranties and implied warranties. Article 2 of the UCC, adopted in 49 states, including California, provides the express warranty of authenticity and of title, and the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The seller warrants that a work is by a particular artist or from a particular country of origin, period or culture. Express warranties of authenticity arise from a seller’s affirmation of facts, promises or statements about authenticity, provenance, etc. Unless specifically excluded or modified, every contract for the sale of art includes a warranty stating that the seller is transferring good title, the seller has the right to transfer title, and the works are transferred free of security interests, liens or other encumbrances of which the buyer has no knowledge. Implied warranties arise from the circumstances or conduct of the sale and not from express statements of the seller. The statute of limitations under section 2 of the UCC is four years from breach, regardless of knowledge of the breach (unless fraud can be shown).


Can the ownership of art, antiques or collectibles be registered? Can theft or loss of a work be recorded on a public register or database?

There is no registration system for works of art in California. Decisions by judges in US cases involving stolen art or fraudulent transactions often note that a comprehensive national registration system would simplify transactions and avoid foul play. There are certain non-­compulsory, non-comprehensive databases that exist for researching works of art. For example, a UCC-1 financing statement allows a creditor to file a statement identifying the creditor, the work, and perfecting a security interest by public notice. Databases such as the Art Loss Register, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Stolen Art File (NSAF), the International Foundation for Art Research’s Stolen Art Alert and Interpol are all sources of information, but there is no central registry in the United States.

Good-faith acquisition of stolen art

Does the law of your jurisdiction tend to prefer the victim of theft or the acquirer in good faith of stolen art?

Statutes of limitations, determining the commencement of a claim, vary from state to state, with some favoring a rightful owner and others favoring a subsequent purchaser. California utilizes the discovery rule, which provides that actions must be brought within three years of the time the plaintiff discovers the facts giving rise to a cause of action, or, with the exercise of reasonable due diligence, should have discovered the facts.

Acquiring title to stolen art through prescription

If ownership in stolen art, antiques or collectibles does not vest in the acquirer in good faith, is the new acquirer protected from a claim by the victim of theft after a certain period?

Under US law, a thief cannot pass good title, allowing the victim to recover a stolen work irrespective of the good faith of the subsequent purchaser, but subject to the defense of the statutes of limitations. There are certain circumstances that permit a subsequent purchaser who acquired a work in good faith (ie, a bona fide purchaser for value) to acquire good title from a seller with a voidable title, but only if the voidable title arose from fraud, non-payment, etc, and not by theft. In situations involving stolen art, only void title results. However, the recovery right may be barred by the statute of limitations or by laches (an equitable remedy that precludes recovery where a party unreasonably delayed in asserting a claim, causing prejudice to the good-faith purchaser).

Can ownership in art, antiques or collectibles vest in the acquirer in bad faith after a period?

A person that acquires a work in bad faith, for example with knowledge of theft or other infirmities, cannot acquire good title, irrespective of the passage of time.

Risk of loss or damage

When does the risk of loss or damage pass from seller to buyer if the contract is silent on the issue?

Risk of loss typically passes on transfer of title, and transfer occurs upon payment unless the parties agree otherwise. The parties can agree by contract that risk of loss will transfer at a different point, for example upon delivery following shipping or once the work clears customs. However, the parties should agree in writing as it is critical to know at all times whether the buyer or seller is responsible for the risk of loss and for insuring the work.

Due diligence

Must the buyer conduct due diligence inquiries? Are there non-compulsory inquiries that the buyer typically carries out?

The due diligence obligations of a buyer will depend on whether a buyer is an ordinary purchaser or a merchant who deals in works of that kind. For an ordinary purchaser, there is no duty of due diligence imposed by law, but a reasonable buyer will enquire into title, provenance, the identity of the seller, the condition and attribution of the work, etc. Dealers and other merchants are held to a higher due diligence standard of reasonable inquiry in the trade.

Must the seller conduct due diligence enquiries?

A seller has certain due diligence obligations. A seller must satisfy the express and implied warranty obligations of the UCC, as outlined in question 2. This means a seller must be satisfied that he or she can warrant free and clear title, authenticity, etc. The seller is often contractually required to disclose any and all information in his or her possession, disclose restoration and warrant that no export or import laws were broken. A seller would be prudent to inquire into the financial stability and reputation of the buyer to avoid dishonored checks, money laundering, and so on.

Other implied warranties

Does the law provide that the seller gives the buyer implied warranties other than an implied warranty of title?

As noted in question 2, a seller gives a buyer express and implied warranties of authenticity and of title. These can be limited contractually, for example, with express disclaimers such as the work is sold ‘as is’, but such disclaimers may well reduce the purchase price. Where a merchant states, among other things, the artist, date, and country of origin, in a bill of sale, the dealer cannot disclaim authenticity or title by contract. These warranties run for a period of four years from the date of purchase.

Voiding purchase of forgeries

If the buyer discovers that the art, antique or collectible is a forgery, what claims and remedies does the buyer have?

In cases of forgeries, the UCC express warranty of authenticity provides a cause of action. In addition, to express warranties, authenticity issues can also fall within the ambit of implied warranties, as more fully described in question 2. Moreover, tort law may provide recourse in forgery cases to add additional claims to the breach of warranty under contract law. The aggrieved buyer may claim that the seller committed the tort of fraud, which occurs when the seller has made an intentional or knowing misrepresentation of a material existing fact about the artwork with the intention that the misrepresentation be relied upon, which the buyer does to his or her detriment. Another tort remedy is a negligent misrepresentation, which means that the seller makes certain false representations as to authenticity, value, etc, without reasonable grounds or basis for such belief. Negligent misrepresentation does not require bad faith or the seller’s intent or knowledge of the misrepresentation.

Voiding inadvertent sales of works by masters

Can a seller successfully void the sale of artwork of uncertain attribution subsequently proved to be an autograph work by a famous master by proving mistake or error?

Under certain circumstances, a seller may seek to void a sale claiming mistake or error, upon learning, subsequent to the sale, that the work is different from and far more valuable than the work the seller thought it to be at the time of the sale. The seller seeks rescission on the ground of a mutual mistake. Courts do not look favorably on such claims as the law seeks settled commercial transactions. But where it can be shown that there was, in fact, an honest mistake on the part of both seller and buyer, rather than the failure to investigate, conscious ignorance, assumption of the risk, etc, a ‘mutual mistake’ case can be brought. Whether a seller can succeed will depend on the parties’ expertise, knowledge and ability to discover or determine the facts upon which the mistake was based. Most courts find that the parties comprehended the risk and entered into the written contract with full knowledge thereof, and should, therefore, be required to live with the results. Seller’s remorse is not often a successful legal claim.

Export and import controls

Export controls

Are there any export controls for cultural property in your jurisdiction? What are the consequences of failing to comply with export controls?

Unlike many countries, the United States does not have export controls for cultural property. Certain exceptions do apply, though, to protect goods in commerce. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) protects Native American human remains, burial sites and grave goods, and imposes criminal penalties for trafficking in Native American remains and certain objects. Another federal law that has had a significant impact on the art and antiquities market is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), which affects works of art that incorporate certain animal parts, and especially the regulations governing the commerce and export of African elephant ivory under the ESA, resulting in a near total ban on the commercial trade in African elephant ivory in the United States, as more fully discussed in question 46.

Export and import tax

Does any liability to pay tax arise upon exporting or importing art, antiques or collectibles?

There is no value added tax in the United States, and imported works of art are not subject to customs duties. However, state sales taxes and use taxes may be imposed, depending on the state and the circumstances. California has a statewide sales tax, and local taxes can raise the rate above the statewide tax rate.

Direct and indirect taxation


Outline the main types of tax liability arising from ownership and transfer of art, antiques, and collectibles.

As art escalates in value, collectors increasingly treat their art collections as investments. An art collection as investment property presents unique and challenging issues from various tax perspectives. The principal areas are income tax treatment of art, valuation issues in tax and estate planning with art. There is no wealth tax in the United States.

There will be different income tax rates depending on whether the owner of an artwork is a dealer, an investor or a collector. Dealers are taxed on the gain from the sale of art held as inventory at ordinary tax rates and may take income tax deductions for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in the business. In contrast, an investor holds art for the primary objective of making a profit from the appreciation in value of the art over a period of time (unlike a collector, whose primary objective is personal use and enjoyment). Investors are taxed on the gain from the sale of art held for more than one year at the more favorable long-term capital gains rate for collectibles, and art held for one year or less is taxed the ordinary income rate. Collectors, like investors, are taxed on the gain from the sale of art held for more than one year at the federal long-term capital gains rate for collectibles. Both investors and collectors are limited to their ability to deduct collection-related expenses.

State and local tax authorities are becoming increasingly vigilant when it comes to enforcing tax. Given the escalating values of art transactions, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), California’s tax authority, aggressively pursues sales or use taxes due and owing on art transactions. This FTB scrutiny can take the form of reviewing shipping manifests, examining auction records, auditing gallery sales, and cross-checking museum donations, among others. Both New York and California tax authorities are watching art transactions closely and are interpreting and enforcing tax laws in an aggressive manner.

Tax exemptions

Outline any tax exemptions or special conditions applicable to art, antiques, and collectibles.

At the state level in California, there is no state tax on inheritance or gifts for California residents, making estates subject to federal estate tax only. Income tax for heirs is not applicable either, because inherited property is not treated as ordinary income.

It is expected that the new tax law, passed at the end of 2017, will change the tax treatment for art, though the scope and magnitude of these changes are not yet known. One certainty is that section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code on like-kind exchanges will be eliminated. For art owners who qualify as investors for income tax purposes, like-kind exchanges under section 1031 provide a capital gains tax deferral opportunity, allowing owners of investment properties to defer payment of capital gains by reinvesting proceeds from sale of a currently owned property into the purchase of a new ‘like-kind’ property that will also be held for investment purposes.

Another area targeted for significant change is the deduction for a charitable donation of artwork. Museums and other cultural organizations have come to rely on the favorable capital gains tax treatment afforded to donors and are bracing for the as yet unknown shift in both estate tax treatment and income tax treatment.

Borrowing against art

Types of security interest

In your jurisdiction what is the usual type of security interest taken against art, antiques, and collectibles?

The typical security interest in art is the UCC-1 financing statement and an accompanying security agreement.

Consumer loans

If the borrower borrowing against art assets in your jurisdiction qualifies as a consumer, does the loan automatically qualify as a consumer loan, and are there any exemptions allowing the lender to make a non-consumer loan to a private borrower?

Not applicable.

Register of security interests

Is there a public register where security interests over art, antiques or collectibles can be registered? What is the effect of registration? Is the security interest registered against the borrower or the art?

See questions 3, 17 and 32.

Sale of collateral on default

If the borrower defaults on the loan, may the lender sell the collateral under the loan agreement, or must the lender seek permission from the courts?

The consequences of a borrower default are determined by contract between the parties.

Ranking of creditors

Does the lender with a valid and perfected first-priority security interest over the art collateral take precedence over all other creditors?

A lender with a perfected security interest pursuant to the UCC-1 financing statement is a priority creditor.

Intellectual property rights

Creator copyright

Does copyright vest automatically in the creator, or must the creator register copyright to benefit from protection?

The United States is a signatory to the Berne Convention and copyright law is under federal, rather than state, jurisdiction. Under US copyright law, copyright subsists at the moment of creation and the creator of the work owns the copyright without the need to register the work with the US Copyright Office. Copyright registration does provide certain protections, though, as registration is a prerequisite to instituting litigation, it puts others on notice of ownership and it allows the claimant to seek attorneys’ fees.

Copyright duration

What is the duration of copyright protection?

For works created on or after 1 January 1978, the duration of copyright under US law is currently the life of the artist plus 70 years. For works created prior to 1 January 1978, the duration rules are complicated because it depends on when and where the work was created, therefore it is advisable to seek competent counsel to assist with an analysis of duration pre-1978.

Display without the right holder’s consent

Can an artwork protected by copyright be exhibited in public without the copyright owner’s consent?

Exhibiting an artwork in public without the copyright owner’s consent implicates two distinct, and potentially colliding, rights under the Copyright Act. The copyright owner enjoys, inter alia, the right of display and the right to exhibit the work to the public. But this exclusive right is superseded by the first-sale doctrine, which provides that the purchaser of the copyrighted work (or a copy sold in multiples such as books, prints, etc) receives the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of the physical work, notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner.

Reproduction of copyright works in catalogs and adverts

Can artworks protected by copyright be reproduced in printed and digital museum catalogs or in advertisements for exhibitions without the copyright owner’s consent?

Museums typically request permission for image reproduction in museum catalogs and exhibition-related marketing. This permission is relatively simple to secure through US licensing entities such as Artists Rights Society and Visual Arts and Galleries Association (or international counterparts for traveling exhibitions). Museums tend not to rely on fair use for multiple-image catalog projects because fair use is a fact-intensive analysis on a case-by-case basis.

Copyright in public artworks

Are public artworks protected by copyright?

As noted in question 22, copyright attaches to a creative work at the moment of creation. Under US law, the fact that a work is available to the public does not strip it of copyright protection or otherwise affect its copyright status. A creator can be anonymous, as is often the case with street art, but the work is protected and the artist can reveal his or her identity at any time. In the case of commissioned public art sculptures, such as those commissioned by federal, state or local agencies, the copyright is routinely retained by the artist and is not transferred to the commissioning entity.

Artist’s resale right

Does the artist’s resale right apply?

California is the only state in the US that provides a resale right to the artist. The California Artist Resale Royalties Act of 1976 (CRRA) provides that a California seller of an original painting, drawing, sculpture or glass art in the secondary market must pay the US artist or artist’s estate a royalty in the amount of five percent of the resale price. The right extends during the artist’s lifetime or within 20 years of the artist’s death and applies to works where the sale exceeds US$1,000 or the sales price is more than the seller paid for the work. The CRRA was challenged in federal court when it was initially implemented, and more recently it has been subject to a series of constitutional challenges. The law has been struck down twice in recent years by federal trial courts – a 2016 appeal limited the law’s applicability rather than invalidating it entirely – and there is a current appeal of a decision holding the entire Act to be invalid on the grounds that the US Copyright Act preempts it. The decision in the 2016 appeal is expected soon.

Moral rights

What are the moral rights for visual artists? Can they be waived or assigned?

The US extended limited moral rights to visual artists through the passing of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which provides rights of attribution and integrity. The attribution right allows an artist to have his or her name attached to a work he or she created and to disavow works he or she did not create. The integrity right prevents the intentional distortion, modification or mutilation of a work of recognized stature. The rights last for the artist’s lifetime and can be waived in writing.

Predating VARA, California enacted the California Art Preservation Act in 1979 (CAPA). The CAPA is pre-empted to the extent that it overlaps with the VARA, but it provides the following: additional rights of attribution and integrity; civil penalties and injunctive relief for violations of such rights; specifies procedures for removal of works of public art to avoid destruction; and a right to public or private not-for-profit organizations to remove a work of fine art in order to preserve it from destruction. The law also permits attorneys’ fees and is, therefore, a potent remedy for aggrieved artists in California.


Accounting to the principal

Does the law require the agent to account to the principal for any commission or other compensation received by the agent while conducting the principal’s business?

Agency principles arise in consignments of fine art where an artist consigns works to a gallery for sale. The California Civil Code provides the following: that, on consignment of fine art, the dealer shall be the agent of the artist for the purposes of the sale; the work of fine art shall constitute property held in trust for the benefit of the consignor; it shall not be subject to any claim by a creditor of the dealer; the dealer shall be responsible for any loss or damage; and proceeds from the sale of the work shall constitute funds held in trust for benefit of the consignor. The statute specifically provides that these provisions cannot be waived and any agreement to do so is void. A consignment by a collector on the secondary market, whether through an auction house or gallery, will also be subject to agency obligations; in this case, general agency duties of good faith and fair dealing arise, but there is no specific law in California governing agent commissions in art transactions.

Disclosed agent commission

Does disclosure to the principal that the agent will receive a commission allow the agent to keep the commission unless the principal objects?

Transparency in art transactions is favored but occurs infrequently. Complex transactions, with multiple intermediaries in the chain, can give rise to lawsuits, especially where undisclosed commissions are involved. California has not issued legislation in the area of agent commissions for art transactions, and case law has not provided guidance.

Undisclosed agent commission

If a third party pays a commission to an agent that is not disclosed to the principal, can the principal claim the commission from the third party?

Auction houses regularly pay an introductory commission to third parties or agents in the chain of the transaction. This arrangement is typically disclosed in the consignment agreement. If the commission is undisclosed, the principal can claim the commission from the third party or agent.

Consigning items

Protection of interests in consigned works

How can consignors of artworks to dealers protect their interest in the artwork if the dealer goes into liquidation?

It is often an unwelcome surprise for a non-artist consignor to learn of the treatment of property consigned to galleries where liquidation or bankruptcy proceedings are initiated post-consignment. As noted in question 29, California law provides that works of artists consigned on the primary market shall not be subject to claim by a creditor of the consignee (section 1738.6(b), California Civil Code). But, where the work is consigned by a collector on the secondary market, this property is available to satisfy claims of creditors. A consignor can protect his or her interest by filing a UCC-1 financing statement (see questions 3 and 17), which provides the consignor with a perfected security interest and status as a priority creditor.



Are auctions of art, antiques or collectibles subject to specific regulation in your jurisdiction?

The auction trade is highly regulated. New York, the US center for auctions, has well-developed laws governing the auction industry. Though California has far less auction activity, there are a number of auction houses doing business in the state and the large auction houses have recently resumed holding sales within California. The California Civil Code governs auction houses and auctioneers generally, and provides the following: that the auctioneer must disclose any liens or encumbrances on the auction item; that a bill of sale or invoice must reference the catalog or other written materials; deposits, blank checks or deposits exceeding purchase prices must be returned within specified periods; and auctioneers misrepresenting the nature of an auction item are subject to civil fines and required to refund the purchase price. Auction houses are also governed by the UCC, which contains numerous auction-specific provisions in section 2.

May auctioneers in your jurisdiction sell art, antiques or collectibles privately; offer advances or loans against art, antiques or collectibles; and offer auction guarantees?

Auction houses may sell works privately as well as at public auctions. The private sales department of an auction house is an increasingly important and active area of the market and is viewed as favorable by consignors and buyers both for privacy and for the timing of a sale. Auction houses are free to offer guarantees, to advance funds on a guarantee, to take a financial interest in a work and to make loans against a work. All such interests and activities must be disclosed in the auction catalog.


Claims to Nazi-looted art

In your jurisdiction, in what circumstances would the heirs of the party wrongly dispossessed typically prevail over the current possessor, if a court accepts jurisdiction and applied local law to a claim to art lost during the Nazi era?

Holocaust-era art has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in the United States. The US has not adopted legislation specifically addressing claims for recovery of Nazi-era looted art. As indicated above, however, a possessor of looted art remains subject to potential suits by Holocaust victims or their heirs because good title to stolen or converted property cannot be transferred, even to a good-faith purchaser.

In California, the legislature addressed the burden of Holocaust-era litigation by adjusting the state statute of limitations for bringing suit. The first statute, enacted in 2002, eliminated entirely the statute of limitations for bringing suit as long as the action was brought on or before the end of 2010. That statute was deemed unconstitutional by the courts and a subsequent statute, section 338(c) of the California Code of Civil Procedure, was enacted to extend the statute of limitations from three to six years for claims for recovery of fine art from a dealer, gallery, auction house or museum, commencing upon the discovery of both the identity of the possessor and the location of the work. The statute expressly provided that such actions must be commenced on or before the end of 2017 and thus, unless revived, the benefits of law have expired and the standard jurisdictional limitations apply under the discovery rule.

Is there an ad hoc body set up to hear claims to Nazi-looted art?

There is no body or tribunal in the US set up to hear Holocaust-era claims. These claims are brought by litigation in the appropriate court with jurisdiction to hear the claim.

Lending to museums

Responsibility for insurance

Who is responsible for insuring art, antiques or collectibles loaned to a public museum in your jurisdiction?

Typically, the museum will insure the work and provide a certificate of insurance to the lender. On occasion, lenders may decide for their own business reasons to keep their insurance in place and will subsequently note that responsibility in the loan agreement.

In addition, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) administers the US Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Program, which provides coverage for loss or damage to eligible works on loan to US museums and organizations holding exhibitions. The indemnity covers both works from outside the US while on exhibition in the US, and eligible US works while on exhibitions outside the US.

Immunity from seizure

Are artworks, antiques or collectibles loaned to a public museum in your jurisdiction immune from seizure?

The United States has a federal program in place that provides immunity from seizure. The US Department of State administers the Immunity from Judicial Seizure Act, which protects from seizure certain foreign works of cultural significance that are brought into the US for temporary display or exhibition as loans to US museums.

On the domestic side, the NEA also administers a program of domestic indemnity for works owned by public and private collections in the US while on exhibition in US museums and not-for-profit organizations. There are specific eligibility requirements and dollar limits for all indemnity programs.

Cultural patrimony

National treasures

Is there a list of national treasures?

The US does not have a list of national treasures. The National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution are the only US national museums, all other US museums are public or private not-for-profit organizations.

Right of pre-emption

If the state is interested in buying artwork for the public collections, does it have a right of pre-emption?

California does not have a right of pre-emption for the purchase of works for public collections. Similarly, there is no such federal right under US law.

Automatic vesting in the state

In what circumstances does ownership in cultural property automatically vest in the state?

Ownership of cultural property does not automatically vest in the state unless such property is found on federal or state land. The NAGPRA (see question 13) vests in the affiliated tribe the title to certain Native American objects.

Illegally exported property claimed by foreign states

How can a foreign state reclaim in your jurisdiction cultural property illegally exported from its territory?

Foreign states can, and do, seek to reclaim cultural property illegally exported from its territory into the United States. These actions can take the form of litigation instituted by the foreign government in the appropriate federal court under the National Stolen Property Act or can be in the form of a judicial seizure action pursuant to a valid treaty. In addition, the Archaeological Reserve Protection Act prohibits exchange in interstate or foreign commerce of any archaeological resource taken in violation of the law, and section 497 of the California Penal Code prohibits receiving stolen property in a foreign country and bringing it into California in the knowledge that it was stolen.\

Anti-money laundering


What are the anti-money laundering compliance obligations placed on the art trade?

Anti-money laundering compliance is voluntary in the United States in art transactions, but any prudent buyer or seller, regardless of whether they are an art merchant, will make efforts to comply with ‘know your customer’ due diligence inquiries, and will ensure that funds used to purchase art will not be subject to future forfeiture or disgorgement. Anti-money laundering provisions are increasingly being written into purchase agreements.

Endangered Species


Is your jurisdiction a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)?

The United States is a party to the CITES Convention. The ESA (see question 13), which implements CITES in the US, prohibits the taking, possessing, selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce, importing, exporting, delivering, carrying, transporting or shipping in the course of a commercial activity, any ESA species listed as endangered, or any part thereof. In addition, the ESA has the authority to issue protective regulations for ESA species identified as threatened.

Is the sale, import or export of pre-CITES endangered species subject to a license?

The ESA allows for an ‘antiquities exception’ for articles containing endangered species or parts thereof that are at least 100 years old; are composed in whole or in part of any endangered species or threatened species; have not been repaired or modified on or after 28 December 1973; and entered at a port designated for the import of ESA antiques.

A permit is required from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency within the Department of the Interior, to import or export endangered or threatened species under the ESA. See www.fws.gov.

Is the sale, import or export of post-CITES worked or antique endangered species authorized? On what conditions?

See question 45.

Specific endangered animal products

Are there any special rules for works of art made of elephant ivory, rhino horn or other specific endangered animal products?

As noted in question 13, the United States issued regulations increasing the protection for African elephants. Such regulations do not exist for rhino horn. These regulations are complicated, and address import, export, commercial, non-commercial and personal use.

For commercial purposes, the import of African elephant ivory is prohibited. For non-commercial purposes, the import of worked elephant ivory is allowed if it was legally acquired, removed from the wild prior to 26 February 1976, and is either part of a household move or inheritance, part of a musical instrument or part of a traveling exhibition.

For commercial purposes, only the export of items meeting the ESA antiquities exception is allowed. For non-commercial purposes, only the following exports are allowed: (i) items meeting the ESA antiquities exception (see question 45); (ii) items legally acquired, removed from the wild prior to 28 February 1976, and are either part of a household move or inheritance, part of a musical instrument or part of a traveling exhibition; (iii) certain worked ivory that qualifies as pre-ESA; and (iv) law enforcement and bona fide scientific specimens.

Interstate and foreign commerce in African elephant ivory is prohibited except for items that qualify as ESA antiquities, and certain manufactured or handcrafted items that contain a de minimus amount of ivory and meet certain criteria. Intrastate commerce (ie, selling within a state) is permitted for worked ivory lawfully imported prior to 18 January 1990, the date the African elephant was listed on Appendix 1 of CITES, or ivory imported under a CITES pre-convention certificate. In both cases, the seller must demonstrate the facts to support the exception.

Non-commercial movement within the US (within and across states) of legally acquired ivory is allowed. The personal possession and non-commercial use of legally acquired ivory is also allowed.

Consumer protection

Cancelling purchases

In what circumstances may consumers cancel the sale of art, antiques or collectibles?

California courts permit a claimant to cancel a sale where fraud can be proved, and where a seller breaches the express and implied warranties of authenticity, title or merchantability. Additionally, the California legislature has enacted a consumer protection statute, the California Fine Prints Act (the Farr Act), for fine art multiples. The Farr Act provides that dealers must issue a certificate of authenticity with any sale of a fine art print, and specifies the requirements thereof, including the artist’s name, whether the work is signed, the medium or process, the year and the size of the edition. It also provides that the dealer must post in a conspicuous place a sign that notifies consumers that California law requires disclosure of certain information concerning prints or photographs and that a person can request such information prior to purchase. Failure to observe such requirements can result in penalties or cancellation of the sale (or both).

In addition, in 2016, the legislature passed a strict consumer protection statute governing autographed collectibles. In light of California’s unique status as the center of the entertainment industry, regulation of memorabilia was deemed an important state interest.

Duties of businesses selling to consumers

Are there any other obligations for art businesses selling to consumers?

There are general obligations under California law for art businesses selling to consumers. For example, compliance with business registration and filing requirements, and website requirements such as terms of use and privacy policies. As noted in question 29, art dealers have certain obligations to their artists, but the Farr Act is the only art-­specific consumer protection legislation in California.

Update and trends

Updates and trends

Online art auctions are increasing in frequency and dollar volume in order to compete for the attention of a younger generation of potential collectors that is media savvy, appreciates efficient and convenient user experiences and may prefer the anonymity of an internet transaction in some cases. Strengthening of consumer or tax regulations in this area can, therefore, be expected.


-Christine Steiner Attorney at Law


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