LL446E      Half Unit
Art and Antiquities Law

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tatiana Flessas NAB7.27


This course is available on the Executive LLM. This course is not available as an outside option.

Available to Executive LLM students only. This course will be offered on the Executive LLM during the four year degree period. The Department of Law will not offer all Executive LLM courses every year, although some of the more popular courses may be offered in each year, or more than once each year. Please note that whilst it is the Department of Law's intention to offer all Executive LLM courses, its ability to do so will depend on the availability of the staff member in question. For more information please refer to the Department of Law website.

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.


Courses are taught over 5 days (Mon-Fri) with approximately 5 hours teaching per day. There is a morning and an afternoon session, so 10 sessions in total with the overall contact time being 24-26 hours. 

Formative coursework

Students will have the option of producing a formative exam question of 2000 words to be delivered one month from the end of the module’s teaching session by email.

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). 


Assessment path 1
Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Assessment path 2
Take home exam (100%).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills