Our Managing Partner, Gerard was consulted by The Detroit News for his views on an interesting case of a lawsuit to claim an allegedly stolen Van Gogh painting. The painting titled “Une liseuse de romans (The Novel Reader, 1888)”, is currently on loan to the Detroit Institute of the Arts.
Gerard was quoted as follows:
““Museums aren’t just any art collectors,” said Gerard Ng, managing partner of Legal Ink, a law firm experienced in art transactions. “They’re sophisticated art collectors and must exercise care. They just set examples of excellence when it comes to art acquisition.”
He said provenance is an age-old problem for museums but one that has become prickly as the public has taken a dim view of items appropriated from other cultures.”
We would add that as most museums are public or quasi-public institutions, they cannot afford any kind of scandal for fear of public backlash. Museums are not just any art collector. They are sophisticated art collectors and must exercise utmost care and diligence in art acquisition. They must set examples of excellence when it comes to art acquisition. They must not buy, borrow or accept as a gift any art if the seller/lender/donor does not deliver a written provenance and written warranties of title and authenticity together with indemnities lasting for an appropriate period of time.
Gerard and our Specialist Counsel, Vincent have previously highlighted the importance of art purchasers conducting proper due diligence in an article for The Business Times titled “Buyer beware: Avoiding pitfalls when buying fine art”. (See https://www.legalinklawyer.com/index.php/2022/11/21/buyer-beware-avoiding-pitfalls-when-buying-fine-art/)
The article is available here (paywall): https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2023/02/10/experts-says-dia-and-other-museums-need-to-be-more-scrupulous-in-acquiring-items/69874845007/.