Import & export
Art market stakeholders are increasingly confronted with complex import and export laws which, in case of violation, could have serious legal and financial consequences. Therefore, caution should be exercised when importing and exporting art and, to an even greater extent, antiquities.
The Netherlands has passed domestic legislation to protect its cultural heritage. Privately owned cultural property may be designated as protected objects or collections pursuant to the Heritage Act, which are subsequently included in the Dutch Protected Objects and Collections Register. This so-called designation order imposes trade restrictions including the prohibition to export protected objects or collections without an official permit.
Other countries have also put their cultural heritage under a protection regime in accordance with international treaties and EU law. Bound by these agreements, it is prohibited to import and trade in cultural property from occupied territory or import illegally exported or stolen property that is protected by signatory states to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Geopolitical crisis can demand immediate legal intervention with the objective to stop illegal practices. Restrictive measures have been imposed with respect to the situation in Iraq and Syria. The EU prohibits every aspect of trade in cultural property from Iraq or Syria and returns all recovered objects.
Cultural property that has been imported into the Netherlands in breach of international and European export restrictions can be taken into custody. Those with valid title to the property can file a claim for its return. The current possessor has no legal right for compensation unless it can be proven that the property was acquired in good faith.
GMW lawyers’ legal expertise is not limited to trade control governed under Dutch law, but any cross-border transfer of art and antiquities under international or EU law. GMW lawyers can advise private collectors concerning designation orders, seizure of property and (dual) restitution claims.