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Scope of Due Diligence Investigation in Obtaining Title to Valuable Artwork

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Title: Scope of Due Diligence Investigation in Obtaining Title to Valuable Artwork
Author: Phelan, Marilyn E.
Abstract: This Article will explore the concept of "due diligence investigation for valuable art objects and the considerations that properly frame the scope of such an examination. The Article represents that because, as between a dispossessed owner and a good faith purchaser of artworks, equities are balanced in favor of the dispossessed owner, current law has imposed a higher standard of diligence on the purchaser. Thus, the Article will underscore the need for purchasers and collectors to conduct appropriate and comprehensive investigations into title of artworks they acquire or already possess and will demonstrate that a due diligence investigation is the only means by which a potential purchaser can be assured of acquiring good title to valuable artwork. It will demonstrate how existing law entailing an affirmative duty of investigation for buyers and sellers of expensive artworks help curtail international art theft by encouraging collectors and their agents to use all resources that have proven effective and that are reasonably accessible for identifying stolen art. These resources include stolen art databases, relevant experts, institutions with prominent collections of a particular artist, and the applicable catalogue raisonne, if available. Finally, this Article will identify the discrete inquiries courts and commentators have prescribed to ensure that art objects have not been reported, nor are reasonably discoverable, as having been stolen, and will discuss the rationale for each.
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Date: 2000

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