Recognizing that art takes many forms, we provide a multidisciplinary analysis and approach.

Meet the team

Locke Lord has been advising on art-related legal issues for decades. There are various laws that protect the rights of artists, purchasers and sellers of art, regardless of how art is defined. Locke Lord lawyers have measured experience in numerous practice areas and have represented museums, universities, other cultural institutions, galleries and art dealers, artists, private collectors, insurers and foundations in connection with addressing legal issues unique to art.

Navigating the legal issues involved in the creation, ownership and transfer of rights in art requires collaboration and experience across a number of practice areas, including:

  • Contracts and agreements
  • Tax
  • Not-for-profit governance
  • Intellectual property
  • Insurance
  • Gift and estate planning
  • Financial transactions
  • Litigation and personal property law

Business Transactions

The Firm’s experience encompasses a variety of sophisticated art transactions involving the purchase and sale of art to and from collectors, including:

  • Negotiating art auction agreements
  • Private art loan agreements
  • Museum lending agreements
  • Placement agreements for television and movies
  • License agreements or other agreements affecting rights of reproduction
  • Representing dealers and galleries in acquisitions of other galleries, large-scale art purchases and other aspects of their gallery operations
  • Representing landlords and developers in matters involving installations, design elements and other art-related matters

Intellectual Property

Digitization and the ability to instantly share content in various media have radically changed the risks surrounding the protection of copyrighted material. Individual authors and creators need to know their rights and understand both how they can be enforced and how effective policies can be created in today’s copy and paste culture.

Locke Lord’s dedicated copyright lawyers collaborate with and counsel clients in industries as diverse as media, advertising, broadcasting, publishing, product design, music, entertainment, colleges and universities and museums to ensure that they are realizing the full potential of their work product without crossing the line where artists’ rights and the rights of the owner of the original work intersect.

We do this by:

  • Obtaining registrations, depositing works (including software code) and filing assignment or transfer documents with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • Preparing copyright policies
  • Assessing complex copyright issues, including ownership and validity of copyrights
  • Providing Fair Use analyses
  • Conducting infringement investigations
  • Counseling on Open Source software issues
  • Negotiating and securing settlements in copyright disputes
  • Drafting licenses for the protection or procurement of copyrights


We have broad experience representing art museums and owners in defending their ownership of art and rights relating to their collections. We represent owners of art in valuation proceedings involving divorce, estate tax and family matters, owners seeking return of pieces that have been stolen or taken and matters relating to authenticity. We are often brought in to advise and to litigate issues concerning copyright ownership, fair use, and the scope and effect of artists’ rights.


Our lawyers represent museums and other nonprofits on governance matters, compliance with applicable IRS rules and regulations on a broad array of charitable funds issues. We advise clients about the investment, management and expenditure of endowment and other charitable funds, provide counsel on compliance with gift restrictions and represent them in cy pres actions seeking modification of gift restrictions. On fundraising, we advise clients on compliance issues related to charitable solicitation laws. We have worked on a number of complex structured transactions, helping clients with bond issuance and with negotiations that allow a museum or other nonprofit to borrow without restricting endowment investments.

Our experienced team of art law lawyers is strongly rooted in the arts community, making Locke Lord uniquely qualified to handle all types of art-related issues and disputes. Many of our lawyers serve on boards of museums and provide pro bono legal services through organizations, such as Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.