Pierre Valentin

London Office
T: +44 (0)20 3959 0623
F: +44 (0)20 3668 5601

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

Pierre has spent the last 18 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.

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

Pierre acts for clients buying and selling artworks. 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 artworks in the USA, Europe and Asia. He is well known for his expertise in art finance.

Pierre Valentin “provides efficient and concise commercial advice”; “his team is professional and responsive” Legal 500 – 2012 Edition

Pierre advises clients on all tax issues related to art. He 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 provides legal support to art investment funds, at the structuring stage and in relation to the management of the fund.

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

He acts for clients in the High Court and Court of Appeal in matters of ownership, valuation of art, fraud, authenticity, World War II restitutions, and foreign nation recoveries.

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 andDiana & 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.

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 and at Christie’s Education.

Practice Groups


  • Solicitor, England and Wales


Founder and Contributing Author of the 'Art@Law' Blog:www.artatlaw.com

European definition of art is absurd, Pierre Valentin, The Art Newspaper, January 2011
Ask the expert: be smart about art, Lucy Warwick-Ching, Financial Times, 30 September 2011
Taxing art in the UK, Pierre Valentin and Charlie Tee Journal des Art, March 2012
Undercover Art, Dalya Alberge Financial Times, 18 May 2012
Money laundering means more work for dealer, Riah Pryor The Art Newspaper, June 2012






Chairman of the World Monuments Fund Britain

Trustee of the Artist's Collecting Society

Chairman of Professional Advisors to the International Art Market


Institute of Art & Law

International Bar Association

Guild of Art Scholars

Art & Droit

Centre du Droit de l'Art of the University of Geneva

Honorary member of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers


The London office of Constantine Cannon is a separate and independent limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales (with registered number OC376384) with a registered office at 1 Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7DX. Constantine Cannon LLP in London is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The word "partner" denotes a member of Constantine Cannon LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications. The professional rules applicable to the firm are available at the SRA website at www.sra.org.uk/rules.