Practice Areas & Industries: Withers Bergman LLP


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Our cultural assets and art team advise art collectors and families with extensive art holdings worldwide, focusing exclusively on fine art, the decorative arts, antiques and heritage property.

We provide a global service from our offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Geneva and Milan. Our lawyers are not simply lawyers, they are authors, former general counsel of the main auction houses, and hold public appointment so they have in-depth understanding of the international art world.

Private individuals come to us for assistance in a wide range of art-related matters, including dispute resolution and cross-border transactions involving art. We are highly experienced at designing structures to hold art collections around the world taking into account our clients' tax planning strategies.

We work with collectors and family offices to set up art-holding trusts and charitable foundations, and advise them in regard to other philanthropic activities. We can also hep with regulatory issues such as import/export and customs regulations, and negotiate loans secured by art anywhere in the world.

Our clients are based all over the world, and have many international assets. They include those with landed estates and inherited collections as well as entrepreneurs and those building their collections from scratch. Some are high profile, others are extremely discrete. We also represent family offices in a number of countries.

Recent Work

  • Acting as legal advisers to the estates of Pierre Matisse and his wife and assisting their charitable foundation in making one of the largest ever art gifts to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
  • Recovering several important paintings stolen from the Bakwin family in Massachusetts
  • Winning significant damages for a Swiss collector whose Anish Kapoor sculpture was lost by a specialist shipping firm.
  • Acting for an important banking dynasty in the acquisition of a painting now exhibited in a National Trust property.
  • Advising the seller of Picasso's painting Dora Maar with a cat, one of the most expensive ever sold at auction.
  • Acting for the Archdiocese of Benevento in connection with the recovery of a manuscript that disappeared during the Nazi era and is now at the British Library 
  • Ensuring the return to a United States lender of a sizeable collection of Bavarian Collection of folk art from a German museum.