LL4BU      Half Unit
Art and Antiquities Law

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tatiana Flessas


This course is available on the MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society, Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Intellectual Property Law.

This course is capped at 30 students.  Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSE for You.

Course content

This course engages in a discussion of specific cases and issues regarding acquisition, ownership, and restitution of antiquities and works of art, and the problems that arise in regulating markets in art, antiquities and cultural artefacts. We will look at domestic (UK and US) and international legislation regulating the art and antiquities trades. Against this legislative background, the course examines important cases in disputes regarding looting and provenance of antiquities, and questions of commodification and sale of cultural artefacts and antiquities, including the issues that arise in the operation of the art market (dealers, museums, collectors and auction houses). ‘Art Law’ is a specialized area of practice and an emerging area of theory and scholarship. We will look at some of the cases and theory of art and law, including the practices of dealers and auction houses in valuing (and mis-valuing) art for sale; the recent developments in addressing the restitution of art taken during the Nazi era; museum loans and the cross-border movement of art; the restoration and conservation debate(s) and then turn to a scholarly and interpretive approach to the issues that arise in considering the art market. ‘Antiquity Law is an engagement with the problems of the market(s) in antiquities and the legal and ethical burdens on the participants in this trade. We will look at the practices and constraints that arise in the context of both private purchasers/dealers and museums acquiring antiquities. We will focus on the case that the government of Italy brought against Marion True, the erstwhile Curator of Antiquities at the Getty Museum, and we will consider how that ground-breaking prosecution changed some of the practices in this area, as well as added to the toolbox for nations seeking repatriation of cultural objects. We will also return to the questions that arise in dealer, auction house and museum policies more generally. Finally, practitioners in these areas, museum and auction house professionals, archaeologists, and art experts will be contributing to the seminars on the emerging legal issues in this area.


20 hours of seminars and 2 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Week 6 in the LT is a Reading Week.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Colin Renfrew, Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (2000 Duckworth); Neil Cookson, Archaeological Heritage Law (2000 Barry Rose); James Cuno, Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over our Ancient Heritage (2010 Princeton University Press); John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen, Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts (2002 Kluwer Law International); Lyndel V. Prott & P.J. O'Keefe, Law and the Cultural Heritage Vol 1 (1984 Abingdon); Lyndel V. Prott & P.J. O'Keefe, Law and the Cultural Heritage Vol 3 (1989 Butterworths); Norman Palmer, Museums and the Holocaust: law, principles and practice (2000 Institute of Art and Law); Olav Velthuis, Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (2007 Princeton University Press); Jason Felch & Ralph Frammolino, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum (2010 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Sarah Thornton, Seven Days in the Art World (2009 Granta Books); Jeanette Greenfield, The Return of Cultural Treasures (1989); Patrick J O'Keefe, Trade in Antiquities: reducing destruction and theft (1997); Karl Ernest Meyer, The Plundered Past (1974).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: 14

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills