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Schnader’s Art Law team provides diverse legal services to the fine art and performing art markets through an interdisciplinary approach that efficiently and effectively fulfills our clients’ needs. The team draws from a number of Schnader’s practice groups, including corporate, finance, litigation, intellectual property, non-profit and trusts and estates. Our art-based clients include artists, galleries, dealers, wealth managers, financial advisers, municipalities, performing art houses, museums, trusts, estates, lenders and family offices.


Schnader’s attorneys have broad experience with the various types of litigation and dispute resolution issues that arise in the art market arena. We have litigated, among other matters, landmark copyright cases, complex art foundation governance issues, questions of provenance, artists’ rights under various common and statutory laws, collector’s obligations concerning bequests, art insurance recovery actions, violations of intellectual property rights and enforcement of secured interests in art. Representative litigation matters include:

  • Represented University of Notre Dame du Lac in 2016 in an action seeking recovery of ninety-seven Pre-Columbian figurines valued at $575,000. The collection had been purchased by the university’s Snite Museum of Art from a Sante Fe, NM art dealer. The plaintiff claimed that the collection had originally belonged to his father, a retired banker and art collector whose ex-wife had stolen the collection in 1996 after divorce filings the previous year. Schnader filed a successful motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction over Notre Dame.
  • Represented the Barnes Foundation, which owns a world-renowned art collection, in obtaining permission to expand its board of trustees and change the restrictive terms of its trust indenture and other documents so that it could relocate its gallery from suburban Merion, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, to a more accessible location within the city. The trial court permitted the change and the Supreme Court exercised its extraordinary jurisdiction to dismiss an objector’s appeal. In later proceedings, the Barnes Foundation successfully defended against several petitions by opponents of the change to reopen the decree.
  • Represented artist Cady Noland, who was sued, along with Sotheby’s, by an art gallery, Marc Jancou, which had consigned one of Ms. Noland’s works for sale. Invoking her rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act, Ms. Noland objected to the work being auctioned on the grounds that it had been damaged and she didn’t want it attributed to her. Ms. Noland and Sotheby’s prevailed on summary judgment in 2014.
  • Represented illustrator/cartoonist Jules Feiffer regarding issues concerning the ownership of his artwork and intellectual property.
  • Represented the Metropolitan Opera in a patent litigation. The matter was settled in 2015.
  • Represented artist Patrick Cariou in a landmark copyright fair use case, Cariou v. Prince, in which the well-known appropriation artist, Richard Prince, and his high-profile art gallery and its owner, Larry Gagosian, were sued for copyright infringement. The case was the subject of extensive press commentary and was closely watched in the art world. The matter settled for a confidential sum in 2014.
  • Represented a New York City art foundation concerning the provenance of certain Luc Bresson photographic prints. The foundation was granted summary judgment prior to discovery and the case was settled while the trial court order was pending appeal in 2010.
  • Represented collector James Rich in a litigation commenced by the Michael Werner Gallery to enjoin Mr. Rich’s sale at auction of a Peter Doig painting, Red Boat (imaginary boys), 1959. The Michael Werner Gallery claimed that Mr. Rich was required by the bill of sale to donate the painting to a museum and should be barred from selling Red Boat. The matter was settled on confidential terms in 2011 and the painting was sold at auction by Christie’s.
  • Represented the Metropolitan Opera in 2015 regarding the proposed auction by a third party of the Met’s property. The Met’s property was withdrawn from the auction.
  • Represented an investor in a major film project in litigation over distributions to investors. The matter was settled on confidential terms in 2010.

Art Finance

Over the past several years, Schnader’s finance attorneys have worked on a number of financial transactions in the booming art finance market. Schnader helps its clients fulfill a novel set of goals in a period in which art constitutes not only a valuable collectable, but a strategic asset. Our lawyers have worked with lenders and borrowers as well as some of the top art galleries, auction houses, museums, foundations and art storage facilities around the world in connection with art finance transactions. Representative art finance transactions include:

  • A $525 million non-recourse debt facility in the first securitization to use a new asset class–theatrical film rights–as collateral.
  • A $100 million credit facility for a specialty lender and six of its affiliates which enabled the lender to establish and fund an asset-based lending program secured by fine art with a western regional bank.
  • A $12 million loan facility for two Los Angeles art collectors secured by 35 contemporary artworks located in seven U.S. locations, including works by Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Julian Schnabel and others.
  • A credit facility for a Bermudian specialty lender and its affiliates which enabled the lender to establish and fund a fine art finance program with a Bermudian bank.
  • A $6 million loan to a foreign tech entrepreneur secured by 49 of his approximately 1,600 pieces of art, located in London and the Geneva Freeport, including works by Irving Penn, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol.
  • A loan to a Los Angeles-based art advisor for the purchase of a 2006 work by Damien Hirst from the Gagosian Gallery.
  • A loan to an Israeli art dealer for the purchase of a work by Francis Bacon.

Corporate Counsel

Schnader’s corporate attorneys regularly counsel museums, performing arts institutions, auction houses, art foundations, artists, dealers, galleries, individual collectors, colleges and universities, and other not-for-profit entities, on a variety of issues including corporate formation and governance, fundraising, compensation, employment issues, leasing, intellectual property, performance contracts, nonprofit status, and facility construction and expansion financing. We also serve as officers and directors of a number of art related entities and performing arts institutions. Representative transactions include:

  • Represented municipal interests in having Dream Garden designated as an historic object that cannot be removed from the lobby of a private building in Philadelphia. Dream Garden, 1916, is a 15 × 49-foot mosaic of more than 100,000 pieces of favrile glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany based on a painting by Philadelphia native Maxfield Parrish. Dream Garden is one of only three such works undertaken by Tiffany Studios that is still in existence.
  • Represented a real estate developer and its partner, an arts development entity, in closing a $21,000,000 new markets tax credit loan financing to finance a 20,000 square foot arts and culture center in New York City.
  • Represented a university regarding the installation of artworks in connection with the renovation of a student center.

Trusts and Estates

Schnader’s Trust and Estates Group regularly works with individual, trustees, executors and estates regarding the disposition of art. Today art can provide the solution to liquidity, estate planning, and life insurance needs, and Schnader’s attorneys have diverse experience in the way art fits into a client’s larger plan, whether it be through estate and tax planning that includes art, the disposition of art through public or private sale, or the gifting of art to art institutions.

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