Art represents the very best of human creativity: it serves as a source of values; preserves human culture; and educates the public. Today’s global art market is a billion-dollar industry, with collectors making investments in artists for titanic profits. But the practice is risky; securing genuine provenance is a complex and often dubious process.

The art market is rife with problems of provenance, ranging from deliberately forged certification to corruption of historical documents that impact the proper functioning of the art market. Evidence indicates that a substantial portion of cultural property appears in the market illicitly, or at least without addressing provenance. These issues constitute serious impediments for the artist, museums, auction houses, galleries, and collectors.

The South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Law and Federal Litigation Sections of the FBA, is launching the first annual FBA Art Law and Litigation Conference in Miami on Nov. 29 through Nov. 30.  For early bird rates, visit www.fedbar.org/ArtLaw16.

“Looted and Stolen Art—Dealing with Provenance Issues in Cuba and Around the World” is a unique seminar devoted to questions of provenance and marketable title that accompanies the acquisition of Cuban artwork. The ideal provenance—the history of ownership of art—traces the work back to the hand of the artist and provides a documentary record of owners’ names; dates of ownership; locations where the work was kept; and means of conversion (inheritance, sale through a dealer or auction). Unfortunately, such complete, unbroken records of ownership are atypical.

The provenance of Cuban art is often a point of contention: the Communist government seized a large amount of art, antiques, and jewelry following the rise to power of Fidel Castro in 1959. As a result, art dealers and collectors frequently question the ownership and authenticity of 20th Century Cuban art.

Roland Sanchez-Medina Jr. (SMGQ Law) will moderate “Looted and Stolen Art” with speakers Paul Schwiep (Coffey Burlington), Pedro A. Freyre (Akerman LLP), and Javier Lumbreras (Artemundi Management Ltd.) providing critical legal, historical, and cultural context into the provenance of Cuban art. These distinguished presenters will highlight the finer points and risks of buying, selling, and collecting Cuban art.

Cuban families are gradually trying to reclaim what was once theirs, in the way that Jews and their heirs have sought to recover works seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The recent detente between the U.S. and Cuba has many Cuban Americans hopeful of restitution: Cubans who fled to America following Fidel Castro’s rise to power look to recover treasured artworks left behind. Yet some of these designs and paintings made their way into Cuban museum collections; many were exported illegally; others are piled up in Havana warehouses. Furthermore, the demand for stolen creations has produced a regime-operated counterfeit industry that affects today’s market.

Sign up to take advantage of early bird pricing for the Art Law and Litigation Conference in Miami! REGISTER NOW: www.fedbar.org/ArtLaw16.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations and social media campaigns.