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Antiquities & Art

Ownership, provenance, valuation, and origin are fundamental aspects of international trade, and all of these issues can be particularly acute with regard to shipments of rare art and antiquities. From time to time, we've proudly helped artists, and others in the art world with these issues.

Art Valuation, Provenance and Origin

The valuation, provenance and origin of imported items will of course be of obvious legal concern, and we have partnered with appraisers and other art experts around the world to properly resolve disputes with U.S. Customs over such matters.

Cultural Property

Various restrictions on purchases and sale of art exist under U.S. Law, including the 1970 UNESCO Convention; the Pre-Columbian Monumental and Architectural Sculpture and Murals Statute (1972); certain bilateral Treaties with Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Ecuador; and various unilateral U.S. embargoes, (including Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Syria). 

With regard to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983 or “CPIA, which is the Act by which Congress implemented the UNESCO Convention, it provides a mechanism whereby the U.S. can restrict the importation of “Archeological and Ethnological Materials” provided that such “Ethnological Materials” are tribal, distinctive, comparatively rare, and “non-redundant.”[1] The laws and regulations here are complex and have resulted in complex questions concerning the provenance of imported items, or whether they were properly acquired/exported.

[1] https://eca.state.gov/files/bureau/97-446.pdf


Curated News:

May 20, 2019: Dist. Ct. NM: U.S. v. Sterling Islands, No. CR 18-4176 JB: Violation of a violation of any government regulation affecting imports – including Origin marking – constitutes a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545.

May 5, 2019: DOJ: Sentencing motion in the Sterling Islands case.

March 15, 2018: Nat. Geo.: Article: Fake Indian Artwork case.