Cultural Assets & Art

Our cultural assets and art practice advises art collectors, galleries, museums and art market professionals worldwide on the issues connected with fine and decorative art, 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.

We act for individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations. Clients ask us for assistance with cross-border art transactions, dispute resolution, tax planning and regulatory matters (including import/export duties, customs regulations and anti money-laundering compliance). We also advise on the protection and exploitation of intellectual property rights.

We provide guidance commercial galleries and dealers with all round guidance including advising on consignment, sale and purchase and agency agreements. We assist museums and public galleries with everything from the acquisition of new artworks to matters of governance, gifts and legacies, loans and fund-raising. We act for a number of art investment funds, and advise on securing loans by art in Europe, America and Asia.

Our clients include the World Monuments Funds, the UK Film Council and the Guild of Art Scholars, Dealers and Collectors, foreign governments and state-funded cultural organizations such as the Italian Republic.

Whether a client's needs are large or small, straightforward or highly complex, we provide independent, practical and effective advice, and clear, comprehensible solutions.

Recent work

  • Retained by the Tate Gallery as principal legal adviser.
  • Assisting with the purchase of a (multi-million dollar). painting by de Chirico, sold by a London private museum to a US collector.
  • Recovering several important paintings stolen from the Bakwin family in Massachusetts.
  • 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.
  • Winning significant damages for a Swiss collector whose Anish Kapoor sculpture was lost by a specialist shipping firm.
  • Representing an influential London contemporary art gallery in an appeal against Customs adverse rulings.

Locations (1)

People (372)

Peer Reviews

  • 4.9/5.0 (196)
  • Legal Knowledge

  • Analytical Capability

  • Judgment

  • Communication

  • Legal Experience


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Client Reviews

  • 4.9/5.0 (5)
  • 100% (5)
  • Communication

  • Responsiveness

  • Quality of Service

  • Value for Money


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We are an equal opportunity employer committed to enhancing diversity within the workplace.

We recognize and value the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to the organization. Diversity is not limited to gender and ethnicity, and includes factors such as religion or belief, disability, age, marital status and sexual orientation. All our employees and Partners are responsible for the promotion and advancement of equality and diversity within the Firm.

Much of our work on diversity in the last three years has been about putting good monitoring tools in place to ensure that we understand where the gaps are within our workforce, making changes to our strategies and communicating our policy on equal opportunities and diversity to our staff and training those involved in managing and recruiting others.

Since 2002, Withers has experienced a period of growth. The expansion of our client base has highlighted our clients' need for a highly skilled and diverse workforce. The business need to support diversity is evident and Chris Priestley (a Partner in our Commercial group) has been nominated to ensure that Diversity is high on the partnership agenda.

Diversity Audit

In 2006 we undertook our first diversity audit of our workforce, monitoring age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and disability. New joiners are monitored on an ongoing basis. Our diversity statistics are published below.

Communication of our commitment to Diversity

Each year our staff are asked to acknowledge their understanding of and commitment to the Firm’s Equal Opportunities Policy as part of our annual audit.

Our Supervisors and Partners receive training to ensure they understand their obligations in implementing our equal opportunity policy in the workplace.

In addition, all interview panelists are trained in the Firm’s approach to diversity and given guidance on our structured skill based approach to interviewing.

Promotion and Access to Development

Opportunities for promotion are communicated and made available to all staff on a fair and equal basis. A skills framework is used in all promotion, appraisal, and pay discussions to ensure a consistent and fair approach across the Firm.

Selection of candiates for promotion to 'Of Counsel or Partner' status is undertaken by a panel of Withers Partners, whose selection decisions are based upon technical expertise and pre-defined partner competencies.

Training is made available to all staff and Partners in line with our business needs. Training needs are recognized formally via our appraisal process, which is objective and skill based, to ensure a fair and equal approach.

Recognition for Diversity

Withers was ranked 2nd (out of the top 100 law firms) for having a high percentage of female equity partners in The Lawyer Career Report Survey 2006.

Withers also ranked 2nd (out of the top 50 firms) for Diversity with respect to women and ranked 1st for Diversity with respect for Gay and Lesbians in the Vault survey 2006.

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