Dunnington’s Cultural Property & Museums team advises clients on legal issues related to the possession, ownership and sale of valuable cultural artworks, together with related intellectual property issues.  Dunnington’s trusts and estates professionals have a century of experience in representing fiduciaries of estates with valuable objects.   Dunnington’s not-for-profit and dispute professionals are intimately familiar with issues surrounding the expropriation and exploitation of cultural property, including relevant principles of international law, copyright, art law, ethics, property law, non-profit law, criminal law, contracts, corporate law, trusts and estates, and dispute resolution.  Whether a matter must be resolved through litigation, another form of dispute resolution, or negotiation, we pride ourselves on creative and culturally-sensitive approach to advocacy. Our diverse team of lawyers are experienced in a wide-range of disciplines, multi-lingual and culturally savvy, having ties to Dunnington’s international practice, France Desk, U.K. Desk, and Italy Desk, among other practice areas.  Our practice also leverages Dunnington’s extensive connection to the art world, providing clients access to premiere non-legal experts in the areas of provenance, valuations, title, restoration, conservation, repatriation and acquisition management.

In 2013, in Matter of Flamenbaum Dunnington successfully represented the Pergamon Museum and the Federal Republic of Germany at the New York Court of Appeals in recovering a 3,200 year-old gold tablet originally excavated from the Temple of Ishtar.   Today, Matter of Flamenbam is New York’s leading case rejecting the spoils of war doctrine.   In 2019, in Reif v. Nagy, Dunnington obtained a landmark victory on behalf of the family of Holocaust victim Fritz Grunbaum before the Appellate Division, First Department.   Reif v. Nagy was a landmark affirmance of a trial court award of title to two Egon Schiele artworks and is the leading case in this area of law.

We regularly advise on issues relating to:

  • Provenance;
  • Restitution and cultural patrimony laws;
  • Defamation concerning artworks and their provenance;
  • Claims related to stolen, lost, or damaged artworks;
  • Structuring deals for the purchase and sale of artworks; and
  • Consignment agreements and joint ownership of artworks.

Practice Group Members

Raymond J. Dowd
Claudia G. Jaffe

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