Cultural Stewardship

Christie’s values the role we have played in stewarding great works of art with our clients for nearly 250 years. Whether they are buying or selling, Christie’s clients count on us to understand both the cultural and commercial value of art — and to ensure the responsible sale of their cultural objects.

Our policy on the looting of cultural property

The looting of archaeological sites and the destruction of historic buildings and monuments continues to be a major concern in the art world. We want to play our part in sending a clear message to those who participate in the illicit trade in cultural property that property looted and trafficked from conflict zones cannot be sold in the open market.

When handling works of antiquity or any work of art, Christie’s adheres to bilateral treaties and international laws related to cultural property and patrimony. We have strict procedures in place to help to ensure we only offer works of art which we are entitled to sell and, as a part of that due diligence, we work closely in partnership with many national and international organization that pursue the same goals.

As custodians of the art that passes through our doors, we recognise that we have a duty to carefully research the art and objects we handle and sell. Research and its publication is a vital part of our work. We devote considerable resources to investigating the provenance of objects we offer for sale and have a programme of specific procedures, including the requirement that our Sellers provide verifiable evidence in order to ensure that the works in our sales have not come from conflict zones.

As an additional safeguard we positively welcome and encourage scrutiny of our catalogues by museums, archeologists, collectors, law enforcement and government agencies.

To further these aims, and ensure that we have the most up to date information, we regularly attend and address forums tackling this area and are also in discussion with representatives of the countries affected by this illicit trade.

Christie’s believe we can play a useful role in the prevention of the illicit trade in cultural property and also facilitate the resolution of cultural property issues. We continue to recognise and evolve our responsibilities, while supporting the honourable and legal market in ancient art.

Works of Art Returned to Italy in Collaboration with the Italian Embassy

Article | Works of Art Returned to Italy in Collaboration with the Italian Embassy, London

Our policy on ivory

Today, we are seeing unprecedented levels of poaching of elephants, which is endangering the species as a whole. Christie's unequivocally condemns the slaughter of elephants for the illicit trade in modern ivory and wishes to ensure that no object passing through our hands is the product of that trade.

We continue to sell historic objects of cultural and artistic importance that include ivory, such as 18th century furniture, objects of virtue, medieval, renaissance and later ivory sculpture and 18th century silverware, where sale is permitted by the CITES convention and relevant national, federal and state regulations.

We believe there is a clear legal distinction between these historic works of art and the unacceptable products of today’s illicit trade in modern ivory, and are pleased to see this distinction reflected by the exemptions in the recently passed UK Ivory Act.