Christie’s values the role we have played in stewarding great works of art with our clients for more than 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. Christie’s wants 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 antiquities or items of cultural property, Christie’s ensures that it adheres to all relevant laws, bilateral treaties and regulations that are applicable in the sale site for such works of art. We have strict procedures in place to help to ensure we only offer works of art which we are legally able to sell and, as a part of that due diligence, we work closely in partnership with UNESCO, as well as Interpol, l'Office central de lutte contre le trafic des biens culturels (OCBC), the US Department of Homeland Security and Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit.
As custodians of the art that passes through our doors, Christie’s recognises that we have a duty to carefully research the art and objects we handle and sell. 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 provenance information to enable us to verify that we are able to sell the work and there is no reason to believe that it came from an illicit source.
The public nature of auction means that our catalogues are openly and freely accessible via our website, where they can be viewed by museums, archaeologists, collectors and general audiences worldwide. Our catalogues are also vetted by The Art Loss Register as an additional safeguard.
To ensure that we have the most up to date information, we regularly attend and participate in forums tackling the illicit trade in cultural property and are also in discussion with representatives of countries affected by this illicit trade.
Christie’s continues to be respectful of different points of view and experiences, while we remain committed to upholding the legitimate and legal market.
Article | Works of Art Returned to Italy in Collaboration with the Italian Embassy, London
Our policy on ivory
Christie’s unequivocally condemns 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 objects where permitted by the CITES convention and relevant national, federal and state regulations which includes certain historic, rare and important objects and musical instruments.
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.