Art Law



Buying a piece of art is an exhilarating experience, whether purchased for pleasure or as an investment, but it is important that the moment is not ruined by avoidable problems. Selling your art, whether to upgrade your collection or to cash in on a successful investment, needs to be done in a careful manner so you maximize the return. The art world is a special place with its own set of rules and customs. Navigating them needs to be done with open eyes and good advice from experienced practitioners. Creating great art is not enough; for artists to succeed, they need a good team behind them to advance their careers and protect their interests. Art professionals run many risks in the day-to-day operation of their art-related businesses and need solid advice to protect themselves from claims and to assist them as they advise their clients.

Venable’s Art Law Group has developed a skillset that comes from decades of experience in counseling those in all facets of the art world. Our lawyers include individuals who were (are) artists, art dealers and distributors, and who incorporate their personal hands-on experiences in the workings of the art world to the advice they provide. They have written on art world topics extensively in many publications and taught Art Law in universities and law schools. Venable’s experienced lawyers are able to provide comprehensive service to those operating in the art world. We understand that our clients have diverse needs and face business and legal issues unique to the art world. We represent clients across local, state and international borders on a full array of art-related matters.

  • Artists
  • Collectors
  • Museums
  • Galleries
  • Art Publishers
  • Art Licensing Agents
  • Architects
  • Art Consultants
  • Appraisers
  • Curators
  • Auction Houses
  • Real Estate Developers
  • Estates and Trusts

Art Acquisition and Sales.

The process of acquiring and selling art is multifaceted; it can be complicated and cloaked in mystery. We assist in pulling back the curtain, negotiating and protecting our clients’ interests including a variety of contractual, tax, estate, intellectual property, corporate and regulatory matters. Our lawyers are able to work with collectors in dealing with galleries, auction houses, museums, private sales, consultants, private commissions, government agencies and appraisers.

For example, we assist with issues related to:

  • Tax (1031 exchanges, income, sales/use & estate)
  • Gifting and charitable donations
  • Auction house negotiations
  • Authenticity and title
  • Engaging experts
  • Negotiations with galleries
  • Fakes and forgeries
  • Investment vehicles and art funds
  • Dispute resolution
  • Import and export laws and regulation
  • Art licensing agreements
  • Copyright and trademark matters
  • Art financing
  • Public art commissions
  • Insurance claims
  • Litigation/arbitration

Art Representation.

Venable lawyers are very experienced at representing artists. We are able to counsel and manage all business and legal aspects of the individual artist’s legal needs. From tax and wealth management, estate planning, employment issues, and intellectual property matters to publication, we provide a comprehensive approach designed for the success of our clients.

For example, we assist artists with:

  • Intellectual property protection
  • Gallery agreements
  • Museum exhibitions
  • Art book publishing agreements
  • Drafting and negotiating agreements
  • Estate planning
  • Resale royalties
  • Art licensing agreements
  • Tax issues
  • Financings
  • Art appropriation issues
  • Public art commissions
  • Moral rights
  • Copyright registrations
  • Litigation

Business Representation for Art Galleries/Dealers & Publishers/Gallery/Appraisers/Agents.

The business of art is a multibillion-dollar industry with very specific, unique and nuanced issues. Our
lawyers are experienced in navigating the legal, business and regulatory aspects of the art world.

For example, we assist galleries, consultants, appraisers and dealers with:

  • Business formation and operation
  • Drafting and negotiating agreements
  • Liability protection strategies
  • Joint ventures formation and operations
  • Investor issues and agreements
  • Online strategies
  • Tax issues
  • Cross-border transactions and regulatory counsel
  • Real estate, including lease agreements and disputes
  • Artist agreements
  • Licensing agreements
  • Auction house agreements
  • Public art commissions