Faculty Profiles

Steven Thomas

Steven Thomas

Adjunct Faculty
B.A. University of Florida, 1982
J.D. Yale Law, 1985
UCLA Law faculty since 2001

LAW 301 - Art and Cultural Property Law

Art intersects with law in a multitude of forums and disciplines, both nationally and internationally.  This course will introduce the student, from an academic and practical perspective, to the body of law (domestic, foreign, multilateral treaties and conventions), applied to artists, fine art and cultural property.  Besides reviewing art-specific law, the course will explore the frequent application of other areas of the law to art related transactions and disputes, and the resulting concerns.  Specific areas of legal review and analysis will include the creation, destruction, purchase and sale (including auctions), consignment, ownership, authentication, export/import, seizure, display, reproduction and appropriation, and theft and recovery, of fine art and cultural property.  We will review artists' legal rights and protections (artist-dealer relationship, First Amendment, copyright, moral rights, resale royalty rights (including current cases and legislative proposals), and government, corporate and private censorship).  We will also review museum deaccessioning and private sponsorship of museum exhibitions and ongoing policy debates in those areas.  As noted, the course covers more than just "fine art," we will also review US and international  laws applicable to cultural property (ancient artifacts, antiquities, religious and cultural objects), including a review of the ongoing international policy debates on matters such as who, if anyone, "owns" cultural objects and should/can international trade in cultural property be restricted by any nation.  Throughout, we will also examine and put into legal context recent high profile events relating to art authentication, recovery of Nazi-looted art, smuggling and repatriation of cultural objects, "appropriation art," protecting and targeting of art and cultural property during war, art fraud and forgeries, art dealer scandals, and the ethics of and lack of transparency and regulation in the art market.