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Karen Sanig, Partner, Dispute Resolution

Karen Sanig


Personal Profile

Karen founded Art Law at Mishcon de Reya in 1995. Clients she represents, across the globe, include artists and their estates, collectors, dealers, art foundations and charities, auction houses, galleries, museums and governments. Karen advises on a wide range of art related matters such as sale and purchase of art, artists' rights, their legacy, creation and management of artists estates, disputes over attribution, authenticity and ownership, cultural heritage matters, restitution of looted cultural property and anti-money laundering regulations.

The legal directories describe Karen as 'pre-eminent in the field of art and cultural property'. She often features on 'Front Row', BBC Radio 4's flagship culture programme. Karen is quoted widely on art related legal issues and contributes to leading art publications including the Art Newspaper and Apollo. Karen is a Trustee of Camden Arts Centre and the Burlington Magazine.

Key Experience

  • Advising on a dispute over Museum Security by Jean-Michel Basquiat between Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill and Jombihis Corporation, Alberto Mugrabi and Faggionato Fine Art, which resulted in a settlement and subsequent sale of the painting for US$14million.
  • Representing the Commissioners for the Church of England in relation to the sale of the Zurburán Old Masters at Auckland Castle, County Durham.
  • Securing the return of the Head of Amenhotep III (14th Century BC) to the Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Representing the estate of Williams Roberts RA.

Recent speaking engagements:

  • Transcontinental Trusts Geneva – Panel discussion on the legal obligations and consequences of naming rights in relation to art donations – 19 May 2022
  • International Bar Association - Art disputes and how to avoid them - Resolving art disputes through mediation and arbitration – 28 April 2021
  • University of Warwick - Introduction to Commercial Art Law, Restitution & Provenance – 9 February 2021
  • Jewish Book Week – Panel Discussion with Geoffrey Robertson on "Who Owns History?"  - the case for returning plundered treasure - 4 March 2020
  • October 2017, Association of Professional Art Advisors conference 'Contemporary Art: A Conservational Challenge', London
  • January 2017, PAIAM, "Managing the Artist's Legacy – Protecting the integrity of the artist's oeuvre – Legal risks for experts and expert committees", Royal Academy of Arts, London
  • December 2016,  ESCP Executive Specialised Master's Programme, "International Wealth Management – Art: Legal & Tax" and "Art Spoliation and International Litigation, London
  • November 2016, Catalogue Raisonné Symposium, "Authentication and Authentication Committees", London
  • November 2016, York University Art Law Module, London
  • October 2016, Plowden and Smith 50th Anniversary Event, "The Art Market – A Law Unto Itself", London
  • October 2016, RICS and APAA, "Art Market Standards – Code of Conduct and Ethics in the Art Market", London
  • June 2016, "UK Public Museums and their responsibilities to cultural heritage", University College, London
  • May 2016, Institute of Art and Law "Repatriation: Bringing an International Restitution Claim Through the Courts", London
  • April 2016, IBC Conference, "Considerations for Trustees investing in illiquid assets", London
  • April 2016, Hallett Insurance and AXA Art, "Cyber Crime, Accidents, Transit and Law – All in a Day at a Gallery", London
  • March 2016, Royal Academy of Arts, "Protecting your Art for the Future", London
  • January 2016, ESCP Executive Specialised Master's Programme, "International Wealth Management – Art: Legal & Tax", London
  • October 2015, International Fine Art & Specie Insurance Conference, "Adjusting the Fine Art Claim in the World of VARA and Droit Moral", London
  • October 2015, Franco-British Lawyers Society "The Art of Advising – Art Law in Practice", London
  • March 2015, International Bar Association Conference, "Pure Love of Art versus Mere Investment", London
  • November 2014, Art Law Foundation Conference "Risk, Rules & Opportunities in Art Investment", London
  • October 2014, Sculpture in the City debate in conjunction with Frieze Art Fair, "(SM)ARTPHONE – The Evolving Ownership of Art in a Digital Age", London

Career History

Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Assistant, Mishcon de Reya
Articled Clifford Chance London and Paris

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