Pierre Valentin

Pierre is the partner in charge of the Art & Cultural Property Law Group practice.

Pierre has spent the last 25 years advising art collectors and art businesses on the law, first as in-house counsel to Sotheby’s and more recently as a partner of Withers LLP.

Pierre’s clients include art collectors, art galleries, art dealers, auction houses, artists, museums, private banks, family offices, insurance companies and art investment funds. About half of his clients are based in the UK and the rest of Europe, a quarter in the USA and the rest in the Middle East and Asia.

“Pierre lives and breathes art law. He is very well respected and is known by clients and other professionals in the art market as the go-to lawyer, particularly where there is a contentious angle” Chambers and Partners UK: Solicitors, A Client’s Guide, 2017 edition.

He represents clients in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in matters of ownership, valuation of art, fraud, authenticity, Nazi restitutions, and foreign nation recoveries.  A firm believer in mediation, he supports clients through the mediation process.  He has recently represented clients in LCIA arbitrations.

Pierre is praised by commentators as “one of the best exponents of art law in the business.” “A veritable giant in the field, he introduced art law to the firm, and now oversees a team looking after art collectors, artists and galleries, museums and foundations.”, says UK Spear’s 500, the annual publication that recognises the top private client advisers, wealth managers, lawyers and service providers for HNW individuals.

Pierre structures, negotiates and documents the sale and purchase of blue-chip art and collectibles. He has a wealth of experience in handling all aspects of complex international transactions.

He has for many years acted for private banks lending against art in the USA, Europe and Asia. He is well known for his expertise in art finance.

‘Exceptional’ Pierre Valentin, who is ‘prompt to respond and concise in his advice’, and ‘creative and conscientious’ Legal 500 – 2011 Edition.

Pierre has been highly recommended as an expert on heritage property by Legal Experts year-on-year since 2008.

Pierre is regularly called upon to advise on intellectual property rights, with a particular emphasis on copyright and the resale right. He is a trustee of the Artist’s Collecting Society, one of the two societies collecting copyright and the resale right on behalf of artists in the UK.

Pierre advises art market professionals and businesses on a wide range of regulatory issues including import & export controls, anti-money laundering, endangered species and consumer protection.

He is a qualified CEDR mediator. He is an accredited mediator to the World Intellectual Property Office in Geneva.

Pierre Valentin “is streets ahead of most in his field” Legal 500 – 2010 Edition.


Pierre Valentin led the following key pieces of litigation on behalf of his clients:

Bakwin –v- Mardirosian.  Represented Michael Bakwin in relation to the recovery of paintings stolen as part of the largest theft of paintings from a private residence in the USA.  Successfully persuaded the English court that a contract signed by Bakwin was void for duress, leading to the identification of the possessor of the paintings and to their recovery.

Scheps –v- Fine Art Logistics.  Represented a contemporary art collector following the disappearance of a sculpture by Anish Kapoor from a London based storage facility.  Successfully persuaded the English court to award significant damages to the collector.

Haunch of Venison –v- HMRC.  Represented the Haunch of Venison gallery in a dispute with HMRC over the importation in the UK of works by Bill Viola and Dan Flavin.  Persuaded the Court of Appeal that video works and light works qualified as works of sculpture, accordingly they should be taxed at the lower rate of UK import VAT and they should be exempt of import duty.

Accidia –v- Dickinson.  Defended the Dickinson gallery against accusations of fraudulently taking a secret commission over the sale by the gallery of a drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  The court found that the gallery had not behaved fraudulently but that it had taken a secret commission.  Successfully persuaded the court to award Dickinson a measure of compensation in recognition of the fact that they had successfully sold the drawing.

Levine –v- heirs of René Gimpel.  Represented a collector who had bought a painting by Pissarro from a well-established London dealership.  The painting was claimed by the heirs of a Jewish art dealer persecuted by the Nazis.  Secured a judgment from the English Court in favour of our client, acknowledging his full ownership of the painting.

Lyon & Turnbull –v- one of their clients.  Represented Scottish auction house Lyon & Turnbull in a dispute with their Hong Kong based clients who withdrew an entire collection shortly before the scheduled auction of the collection.  The dispute was eventually settled by mediation.


  • Project managed a ‘blockbuster’ exhibition at Paris museum Quai Branly on behalf of a US collector (lender) and a US artist
  • Negotiated the consignment of Dora Maar with a Cat sold at Sotheby’s in New York for US$95 million
  • Assisted the National Gallery of London on the acquisition of Titian’s Diana & Actaeon and Diana & Callisto from the Duke of Sutherland
  • Negotiated agreements for a touring exhibition of a group of artworks by artist Tony Cragg in China
  • Advised private banks in the US, the UK and Switzerland on loans secured by art collections
  • Advised top end art collectors including in relation to loans to museums such as National Galleries Scotland, the Metropolitan Museum and the Qatar Museums Authority
  • Advised top-end contemporary art galleries in the UK, including negotiating sales to world class museums such as Guggenheim Bilbao and the National Portrait Gallery London
  • Provides legal support to a governmental agency engaged in the construction and management of a world-class museum in the Middle East
  • Represented a leading antiquities dealer in a dispute with the New York District Attorney’s Office following the seizure of a Persian relief in New York
  • Negotiated numerous consignments at auction including the consignment of an important painting by Kandinsky to Christie’s New York or behalf of a Chicago family, accompanied by an auction guarantee
  • Represents one of the wealthiest European industrial families in connection with an audit of their art collection with a view to identifying artworks that may have been wrongly dispossessed during the Nazi era
  • Representing possessors of art looted by the Nazi, and family of victims of the Nazi regime, in ‘fair and just’ settlements of Nazi-era claims to art wrongly dispossessed during that period.

Pierre has built a network of exceptional legal advisors in other countries. He relies on this network to provide speedy, thorough, practical and cost effective legal solutions across borders.

In 2011, Pierre founded the association of Professional Advisors to the International Art Market (PAIAM). PAIAM is a multi-disciplinary network of professionals regularly advising art collectors and art businesses.

Pierre teaches at the Sotheby’s Institute, Christie’s Education and at the ESA Business School in Beirut, Lebanon.

Pierre Valentin's Publications & Speeches

Art Law 2018: Getting the Deal Through

Law Business Research, 2018; Contributing Editor Download

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Free Agents?

Secret commissions and poorly defined relationships in art transactions pave the way for litigation, warn Pierre Valentin and Azmina Jasani Read Article

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Pierre Valentin, avvocato e partner presso Constantine Cannon LLP a Londra, dirige un team di avvocati specializzati in diritto d’arte, che presta consulenza a collezionisti...

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Consumer Rights Act 2015, New Consumer Remedies: Be Prepared

Antiques Trade Gazette, October 2015. Click here to read the article.

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A Tug of War Over Art-Sales Transparency

These cases would seem to validate the assertion made at the Art Business Conference by Pierre Valentin, a partner in the London law firm Constantine...

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The Art Market Unregulated? Absolutely Not.

Georgina Adam isn’t holding her breath waiting for the art market to police itself. But it turns out the worthies invited to the Art Business...

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Cardsharps Case Shows Caravaggio's Lasting Talent for Trouble

Instead, explains Pierre Valentin, who heads Constantine Cannon’s art and cultural property law practice, “its potential was enough. In the art world there is increasingly...

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Changes to the UK Import Vat Regime

“Temporary Admission (TA) is a specific VAT importation regime,” says Pierre Valentin, partner and art law specialist at Constantine Cannon, who has highlighted the issue...

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Founder and Contributing Author of the 'Art@Law' Blog


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Money laundering means more work for dealer

Article by Pierre Valentin & Riah Pryor, The Art Newspaper, June 2012

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Undercover Art

Article by Pierre Valentin and Dalya Alberge, Financial Times, 18 May 2012

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Taxing art in the UK

Article by Pierre Valentin and Charlie Tee, Journal des Art, March 2012

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Ask the expert: be smart about art

Article by Lucy Warwick-Ching & Pierre Valentin, Financial Times, 30 September 2011

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European definition of art is absurd

Article by Pierre Valentin, The Art Newspaper, January 2011

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