French Laws on Stolen Art Assets : The Laws Favor Buyers in Good Faith

In France, it is always wise for art studio owners to insure their art collection, including artworks still in progress. Insurance is important not only in case of calamitous events like fire or flooding but also in case of robbery.

Under French laws, works of art, collectibles or antiques stolen from an art studio or gallery and later found to be in the possession of a buyer in good faith, will side that buyer. The owner of the studio who purports that the object in question was stolen, cannot just repossess it.

Article 2274 of the French Civil Code states that good faith is always presumed on the part of the possessor, even if someone later claims they have been stolen from his or her art studio or gallery. The burden of proof to show otherwise lies on the art studio or gallery owner who claims to have been a victim of theft or robbery.

Still, the original owner of a stolen art piece must claim ownership and show proof of bad faith within three years as prescribed by the statute of limitations, which is shorter than the standard limitation period of 5 years.

Moreover, French laws further state in Article 2276 of the Civil Code that as far as movable goods are concerned, possession is equal to title.

In case the possessor in good faith purchased the artwork at an auction, or from a professional art dealer or broker, or in an art fair, Article 2277 of the French Civil Code states that the art studio owner or anyone claiming to be the original owner of the stolen object of art, can claim restitution.

However, he or she can only receive reimbursement for the price paid for by the purchaser or the latest owner, and not the stolen artwork itself.

The Basics of an Insurance Policy for an Art Studio Business

Business plan writers for artists who run their own art studio or gallery, always make it a point to include insurance coverage for the artist’s art collection.

Not a few artists, including those renting a space for their art studio, tend to presume that insurance policies for homeownership or rented properties cover the art pieces exhibited or stored in their studio or gallery.

Although some articles located within a property are insured, such policies strictly cover only assets not related to a business.

This denotes therefore that since artists are likely to sell their creations, they should also make arrangements with their insurance provider for a separate coverage for their art collection.