Consignment agreements

For consignments, the owner (consignor) physically delivers a work of art to an intermediary (consignee), often an art dealer or expert, for further resale to third parties. Although the consignor remains the owner of the work, consignment raises a number of risks one should be aware of. For instance, consignment makes an object more vulnerable to damage, theft and embezzlement. Accordingly, clearly framed liability clauses are fundamental.

Consignors must also be aware of the significant risks in the standard terms and conditions offered by auction houses and art dealers. This is particularly true if the consignor is not accustomed to dealing with art businesses, for example when the person concerned inherits a collection or serves as executor of an estate.

The importance of a written agreement cannot be overemphasised. Such an agreement should set out a clear and unambiguous description of the remit of the consignee, the circumstances under which transfer of ownership takes place, and the conditions surrounding transfer of an object. Failing to do so can lead to tremendous problems in case of attachment, bankruptcy or fraud.

For more information or assistance with consignment agreements, please contact us.

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