Marking the beginning of a new academic year, the latest issue of Art Antiquity & Law, IAL’s quarterly journal, is hot off the press and brings a number of articles ranging from topics such as musical instruments and their legal framework to arbitration, art theft, export of cultural goods and the repatriation claims for the Benin Bronzes.
Riccardo Vecellio Segate argues that the current framework for defining national treasures and controlling their export both under Italian domestic laws and at EU level is too focused on more traditional artworks such as paintings and sculptures and is therefore inadequate when it comes to musical instruments. The author follows up with a proposal for reviewing the existing rules in light of these instruments’ unique combination of performativity and historicity.
Noor Kadhim discusses how the very nature of art law not as an autonomous field of law but rather ‘a polymorphous creature (…) dependent on the evolution of different laws’ has direct implications to the kinds of disputes that can arise as ‘arts disputes’ and how challenging it is to find a single forum that would be suitable to resolving them all. The author then investigates arbitration as a viable dispute resolution method specifically in what regards title and authenticity claims and looks at the newly created Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA).
Pragya Singh and Shashwat Singh assess how the current international legal regime for the recovery of stolen art and the ensuing litigation is ineffective in providing a uniform framework to deal with these matters across nations precisely because of its reliance on domestic laws and common law principles. The authors also look at due diligence requirements and how they have been a welcome source of consistency in spite of the legal uncertainties that mar the international landscape of art theft disputes. Lastly, they consider whether an exclusive international body for the adjudication of art-related matters would be an efficacious remedy.
Alberto Frigerio examines recent changes to Italian laws regarding export controls that have been brought about as a result of the Law on Competition (Law no. 124 of 2017). Frigerio assesses the changes from both sides: on the one hand, there are those who claim that the new law is a welcome development in making the Italian art market more competitive internationally; on the other hand, there are those who claim that the new law significantly undermines the country’s ability to protect its cultural heritage. He also provides a detailed account of how export controls in Italy operate under the new rules, which is a most useful resource to academics and those in the art trade alike.
Folarin Shyllon considers the Benin Bronzes and Nigeria’s repeated repatriation claims in light of the legal arguments often used against the return of these artefacts. The author assesses how those arguments rely on an ‘imperial’ or ‘illegal rule of law’ which is out of touch with an ethics-based approach to these claims. He also discusses the momentum recently given to such repatriation issues as a result of President Macron’s speech in Ouagadougou in 2017.
Stephanie Drawdy presents a detailed case note on the recent ruling given by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in the Zuckerman v. Metropolitan Museum of Art dispute involving a Holocaust-related restitution claim over a painting by Picasso. She discusses how the ruling in this case can have significant repercussions to the scope and application of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act in the United States given that the doctrine of laches was accepted by the court as a counter-weight to the removal of limitations barriers enshrined in the Act. She also points at the legal uncertainty stemming from another recent ruling in the US, this time in the Reif v. Nagy case, as in that decision the court dismissed a laches defence.
Wang Yunxia and Zhang Yadong end this issue with a review of the third edition of Patrick J. O’Keefe’s seminal book ‘Protecting Cultural Objects: Before and After 1970’ published by the Institute of Art & Law. They discuss how O’Keefe’s extensive experience in this field enabled him to give a historical account of the background to the Convention together with his detailed commentary of its provisions, thus providing readers with a unique insight into one of the cornerstones of international cultural heritage law.
This issue of Art Antiquity & Law is available now in print and online as a subscription through IAL, which can be purchased here. Alternatively, individual articles from this issue are still being uploaded to the website for direct purchase and can be acquired in the meantime by contacting Jo Crabtree at firstname.lastname@example.org. Moreover, back copies and digital copies of articles in previous issues, dating back to the first issue of Art Antiquity & Law in 1996, are also available through here.