Large segments of the art and collectibles market have become subject to restrictive government regulation, including collecting categories such antiquities, ivory, rare books, and manuscripts. We have “go-to” expertise in these specialized fields and related customs and regulatory issues. We can help you conduct business with confidence in these sometimes-difficult fields.
Antiquities and Cultural Property
For decades, our partners have represented leading collectors, dealers, auction houses, and museums in the antiquities market and related fields such as coins, rare books, and manuscripts. We have extensive experience working within the framework of US criminal law, customs law, import restrictions, foreign patrimony laws, and acquisition guidelines such as the “1970 Rule.” Our matters include private sales, compliance and regulatory advice, and customs and contested seizures.
We represent leading collectors, dealers, auction houses, and museums in collecting and dealing in fine and decorative art objects containing ivory and other endangered species material. We have extensive experience working within the framework of US federal law (including the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act), international treaties (CITES), customs law, and state law governing the domestic and international trade in ivory and other endangered species material.
In 2014, the market for antiques containing ivory and other endangered species became subject to highly technical US federal and state regulations affecting domestic and international commerce. We represented a group including 17 prominent US and UK dealers, auction houses, collectors, dealer associations, and appraiser associations. Under difficult circumstances, we managed to preserve the interstate trade in bona fide antique ivory objects under US federal and New York state law.
International Trade Restrictions
We have extensive experience in a broad array of international trade matters. Most major trading countries, excluding the US, have export licensing and trade restrictions that apply to fine and decorative works of art. The US has no export restriction on works of art, but does have limited import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological objects from certain countries. Additionally, economic sanctions can apply to works of art that originate in certain countries. We regularly advise our clients on matters concerning:
o Non-US Export Restrictions
o International Trade Agreements
o US Economic Sanctions
o Other US Government Agency Requirements.
International Trade, Customs and Documentation Requirements
Failure to properly declare objects when exported or imported can lead to fines, penalties, and the possible seizure of the items. Most countries have cultural property laws that restrict the export of cultural objects, either through retention or through export licensing requirements.
In the United States, the government imposes limited import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological objects from certain countries. In addition, economic sanctions restrict the importation of objects from certain sanctioned countries, such as Iran, Cuba and Burma. The importation of objects stolen from foreign museums, libraries, and public collections can lead to automatic seizure by the Department of Homeland Security. We regularly advise galleries, auctioneers, museums, collectors, shipping companies, and customs brokers on these complicated issues.
Regulatory and Government Policy
The art market is subject to increasing federal, state, and international regulation. We have had success over the years in shielding important sectors of the art market from eclipse at the hands of opposing interest groups and regulators. Our ability to articulate the special concerns of art market clients before government regulators sets us apart. We have represented clients before:
o US Customs and Border Protection
o Immigration and Customs Enforcement
o Office of Foreign Asset Control
o Department of State
o President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee
o US Fish and Wildlife Service
o New York Department of Environmental Conservation
o Food and Drug Administration