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May 4, 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - ,, No comments

ARCA 2010 Alum Leila Amineddoleh Establishes the Art Law Group at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel in New York

Leila Amineddoleh inside a church in Cappadocia
This year ARCA 2010 Alum Leila Amineddoleh founded the Art Law Group at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel in New York. The group specializes in visual art and intellectual property. The acquisition and ownership of artwork involves many complex transactions, Ms. Amineddoleh told the ARCA Blog.
“The Art Law Group at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel counsels clients on all legal issues related to the acquisition, retention, and disposition of fine art, and rights to works of artistic creation. The firm handles litigation, alternate dispute resolution, and transactions that concern works of art, the art market, and the art world. It assists clients with the purchase, consignment, sale, and auction of art, organizing and implementing major exhibitions, structuring business agreements, drafting contracts, complying with customs procedures, recovering stolen work for collectors and insurance companies, and advising clients on criminal matters.”
The partners at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel approached Leila about joining the firm after she had returned from her studies with ARCA.
“The members of the firm have had great success in both litigation and transactional work, including recovering large monetary judgments in complex litigations. In addition, the founding partners of the firm are avid art collectors and involved in the art markets in both New York City and Chicago.”
ARCA Blog: What has been the most challenging part of forming a new practice group at a law firm?
Leila: The most difficult task is marketing the group. There are a few very well-known law firms in the US that have wonderful art law groups, and naturally clients turn to those firms first. Being the new kid in town is challenging, but we’re hoping that members of the art community will begin to recognize LLE as one of New York’s top art law firms.
ARCA Blog: What advantages does a smaller firm like LLE offer?
Leila: Because we’re a smaller firm, we have lower operating expenses, meaning that we’re able to charge less for our services. Clients will be able to get high-level work, but for lower prices.
ARCA Blog: How does an art law group function?
Leila: Basically, the same as any other group. Clients call us with questions about their legal situations, ranging from negotiating contracts between galleries and artists, litigating for the sale of paintings, filing trademarks, or dealing with criminal investigations regarding provenance. Clients can be very emotional about their legal issues, and it’s our job to analyze their situations rationally to find the best solution for each unique situation. We do our best to use legal tools to properly advise our clients and protect their interests.
ARCA Blog: Are your clients concerned about the provenance of their artworks? Are you ever asked to substantiate the ownership of an object or painting against claims of theft?
Leila: Clients are concerned about the provenance of their objects. Collectors are beginning to realize that provenance is extremely important. If they do not complete their due diligence of provenance research, they could have much bigger and more costly problems later down the line. In order to substantiate ownership, LLE works with provenance researchers in the US and Europe.
ARCA Blog: Do you see any issues regarding Holocaust-era art restitution?
Leila: I haven’t yet worked on any Holocaust-era art restitution cases, but it’s an area that I’m deeply interested in, and I would love to work on a matter related to World War II looted art.
ARCA Blog: Would you advise clients to document the history of ownership of their objects?
Leila: Certainly, it’s very necessary, and it’s a rule that I follow myself. As an art collector, I always research a piece’s history, and I keep dated receipts and information about where I purchased an object. It is necessary for clients to research the history of an artwork. If there isn’t a history attached to the piece, then purchasers should keep all current records: receipts, information about the seller of the object (whether it be a business card or name of the seller), etc.
ARCA Blog: In negotiation contracts between galleries and artists, what are some of the main concerns that have to be addressed?
Leila: As you can imagine, the artists are most concerned with their art. They need to be guaranteed that their art will be safe and protected against theft, fire, and damage. In addition, they need to be ensured that they will have unsold items returned and that they will receive proper credit for their work. And artists need to feel comfortable with their agents and galleries—they must know that these individuals respect their art and their craft.

On the other hand, gallery owners are most concerned about having products delivered to them. Artists have the reputation of being unreliable, and gallery owners need contracts that specifically set out dates and deadlines to ensure that artists deliver their works safely and securely with enough time for the galleries to properly organize shows.
To read more about LLE, you may visit their website: