LL4BU      Half Unit
Art Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tatiana Flessas


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course engages in a discussion of specific cases and issues regarding acquisition, ownership, and restitution of works of art, and the problems that arise in regulating markets in art and cultural artefacts. We will look at domestic (UK and US) and international legislation regulating the art trade. Against this legislative background, the course examines important cases in disputes regarding commodification and sale of cultural goods, including the issues that arise in the operation of the art market (dealers, museums, collectors and auction houses). ‘Art Law’ is a specialised 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. 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.


This course has 20 hours of teaching content in Winter Term and an additional two hours of teaching in the Spring Term. There is a Reading Week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

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 spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 30

Average class size 2022/23: 30

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills