Art Law & Cultural Property Database

Databases, watchlists, catalogues
Resource theme: 
Legislation - International
Legislation - National
Litigation, Return & Restitution
Resource type: 
Tools & Practices - Databases, watchlists, catalogues
International Foundation for Art Research
Language of publication: 

IFAR maintains an Art Law & Cultural Property Database. This database offers two independent, but inter-related resources—International Cultural Property Ownership and Export Legislation (ICPOEL) and Case Law and Statutes (CLS). It is designed to be a comprehensive online research tool to help navigate the rapidly increasing and diverse body of legislation and case law concerning the acquisition, authenticity, export, and ownership of art objects. It includes information that is difficult to find elsewhere, and it does so in an attractive, easy-to-use format. The Database draws on archives amassed by IFAR over its more than forty-year history, as well as extensive new research, and is continually updated and expanded. Consulting this information is one step in a due diligence process in acquiring a work of art. It is not intended as legal advice.

The International Cultural Property Ownership and Export Legislation (ICPOEL) section contains legislation governing the export and ownership of cultural property from more than 100 countries. The legislation is presented in both summary form and as complete text; the latter in the original language and in translation. Selected historical legislation is also included, as, even when superseded or amended, it can be useful for researchers looking for statutes applicable at the time of the acquisition, export or import of a particular art object. Links connect foreign legislation to relevant U.S. case law. There are also links to relevant international conventions and bilateral agreements. Also included are Country Contacts, information on the government official(s) in each country to whom a query regarding the legality of acquiring a work can be addressed.

The Case Law and Statutes (CLS) section contains an extensive body of primarily U.S. case law, including both litigated cases and, notably, hard-to-find, out-of-court settlements. The material is organized under eight topics: World War II-Era/Holocaust Related Art Loss; Cultural Property (Antiquities) Disputes Over Non-United States Property; United States Cultural Property; Art Theft (other than World War II and cultural property looting); Other Ownership Title Disputes/Claims Including Conversion and Breach of Contract; Art Fraud, Attribution, Authenticity, Forgery, Libel, and Defamatory Statements; Valuation/Appraisal; and Copyright, Moral Rights and Other Issues. Under each topic, relevant cases are summarized (where possible, with images of the art objects in question). There are also links to relevant U.S. statutes, foreign legislation and a glossary.

This unique Database, created with the help of a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (a U.S. federal agency), was available free of charge for several years, but IFAR has recently been forced to implement a very modest access fee in order to sustain the Database long-term.