Due diligence en provenance

An important distinguishing feature of a physical work of art is its longevity.

Consequently, it is to be expected that a work of art will change hands many times during its lifetime. Due diligence prior to the purchase of a work of art is necessary to reduce the likelihood of adverse consequences for the buyer. Although Dutch law presumes that a work of art was obtained in good faith, the legal disputes arising from a claim can be costly, affect reputation, require a lot of effort and even lead to a decrease in the value of the artwork in question.

Due diligence

Thorough due diligence mitigates these risks. GMW lawyers will conduct investigations to identify any suspicious circumstances surrounding the transaction. This will focus in particular on a possible loss or theft.

Provenance investigation

Provenance investigation is an essential part of due diligence and aims to identify the successive owners of a work of art as completely as possible. GMW has the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out professional provenance research, with access to both the important archives based in The Hague and archives in the rest of the Netherlands.

However, it is not always possible to avoid legal proceedings. Although the concept of due diligence is present in European and international law, there is no harmonised standard (yet) for exactly what it means. The interpretation and scope of this concept depends on who hears the case and under which jurisdiction. This generates legal uncertainty for buyers. GMW lawyers has the knowledge and expertise to anticipate what level of due diligence is required in the event of a dispute.

The importance of due diligence is not limited to buying and selling, but is necessary for all legal transactions, including gift, loan and pledge. Our lawyers can advise individuals, companies and non-profit organisations on their legal responsibilities when faced with a dubious provenance of their works of art.

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Antoine de Werd

Antoine de Werd

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Wladimir Schmidt

Wladimir Schmidt

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