Due diligence & provenance
One of the distinctive properties of a physical work of art is its longevity. Consequently, a work of art is expected to change ownership many times throughout its existence. Due diligence before acquisition is necessary to reduce the risk of an adverse situation arising for an art purchaser. Even though Dutch law presumes good faith on the part of the purchaser, legal disputes arising from claims can be costly, impact reputation, consume a great deal of effort and even potentially reduce the value of the art that has come under question.
Comprehensive due diligence before purchase limits these risks. GMW lawyers can carry out investigations to identify any suspicious circumstances that surround the acquisition, with special attention given to ascertain if the original or consequent owner was a victim of loss or theft.
Provenance research forms a central part of due diligence and refers to an object’s full history and ownership. GMW is able to carry out professional provenance research with access to major archives in The Hague and around The Netherlands.
However, is not always possible to avoid court proceedings. The concept of due diligence is present in European and international law, but there is no corresponding standard of precisely what this entails. This introduces risks depending on who is hearing the case and under what jurisdiction. GMW lawyers has the know-how to anticipate what level of due diligence and evidence is needed in case of dispute.
Due diligence is not confined to sales and acquisitions, but is necessary for all transactions including donations, loans and collateral in financial contracts. GMW lawyers can offer counselling to private and corporate collectors, businesses, and non-profit organisations concerning their legal responsibilities when learning that objects in their collections have a flawed provenance due to alleged theft or looting.
For more information or assistance with due diligence and provenance, please contact us.