Interview with Giuseppe Calabi Art Lawyer –

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    He is Giuseppe Calabi, Art Lawyer –

    Five questions to get a preview of the great art professionals, the daily challenges to be faced, the choices that have determined their path in the art system and market, the digital changes and the advice for those who want same career in collaboration with

    Art was in the destiny from the beginning for lawyer Giuseppe Calabi, Managing Partner of the law firm CBM & Partners in Milan.

    His profession, which could be defined as “Lawyer of Art”, is the result of more than twenty years of application of the Law to Art, together with constant attention to the transversality of a sector that is constantly moving.

    Lawyer Calabi, who has recently published a new text “The works of art and collections”, sees in the revolution of the art world currently underway the so-called “glass half full”: ignoring it becomes impossible, but understanding it and being part of it becomes vital, especially for galleries, fairs and auction houses.

    In this interview lawyer Giuseppe Calabi explains that, in this world and in the art law profession, there are two elements not to be underestimated: specialization and mental flexibility, the rest is all to be read…

    Giuseppe Calabi

    Giuseppe Calabi is Managing Partner of the law firm CBM & Partners in Milan and co-author of the recent publication “Le opere d’arte e le collezioni” published by Wolters Kluwer.

    Graduated in Law cum laude at the University of Milan, he obtained a Master’s degree at Harvard Law School. He successfully started and developed the field of art law, in which the Firm is recognized as a leader both in Italy and internationally.

    He was a member of the Commission charged by MiBAC to draft the implementing decrees of the recent legislative reform on the international circulation of cultural goods. He regularly assists Italian and foreign art market operators, including artists, auction houses, gallerists, antique dealers, archives and artist foundations, collectors, museums and cultural institutions in Italy and abroad.

    He is actually a Chairman dell’Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Law Committee dell’International Bar Association (IBA).

    He is also a member of the Harvard Law School Leadership Council of Europe and the IEA Standing Committee on Copyright.

    1.How did your path in the art world started?

    My career path in the field that today is commonly referred to as “Art Law” began about 25 years ago. I believe I can identify three factors that have facilitated my professional growth in this area: 

    1. first of all my interest and curiosity towards the world of humanities and art, fed by the years I attended the Berchet classical high school in Milan and by the fortune of having had some excellent teachers;

    2. my interest was then randomly intertwined with randomness, which frequently affects a person’s life choices: I had the opportunity to professionally deal with the activities of an international auction house in Italy and from this initial assignment, which made me understand how complex is the regulation of the art market in our country, has developed a practice that today engages about 80% of my professional life;

    3. not least I would like to mention the constant dialogue I have with my wife, Sharon Hecker, who is an art historian and curator. Our relationship has always been a source of stimulating reflections that have also helped me a lot in my professional career.

    2.How would you describe your profession todaY?

    I believe that today it is not easy to describe my profession.

    What I can certainly say is that it is increasingly dominated by the need for specialization. Art law is a fitting example of this process, as it represents an area in which specialization intersects with a necessary knowledge of market logic, as well as an interdisciplinary vision, as it is a discipline that, both in Italy and abroad, embraces the most diverse areas of law including, to name a few, private law, administrative law, international law, intellectual property law and tax law.

    3. How has your profession changed over time?

    The technological advent in the legal and judicial field has brought a strong change in the profession, which needs to be exercised with increasing precision, punctuality and speed in responding to the requests made by our clients.

    The office of CBM & Partners in Milano

    4. What impact is digital having on your industry?

    Digital has had a very significant impact in our industry and will continue to do so in the future. Although some professionals are reluctant, I see the so-called glass as half full rather than half empty. The digital world, in fact, makes it possible to make transactions concluded at a distance extremely faster, even those of significant amount. Just think of the digital revolution in the art market, which has been greatly accelerated following the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Auction houses have suspended live auctions, art galleries have stopped opening to the public and trade fairs have cancelled all upcoming appointments, at least until the end of 2020.

    Auctions and private negotiations exclusively online have been included in this particular context.

    While auction sales are achieving unexpected results, as seen, for example, in June 2020 with the new record of the British artist Francis Bacon, whose Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus reached an auction price of around $85 million, galleries and fairs are finding it more difficult to adapt to this momentous change.

    5. What would you suggest to a someone who wants to undertake your path?

    To a young graduate who wants to take the road of art law, I recommend above all to never stop studying and to have as much as possible an open mind able to immerse himself in reality.

    In this area it is really important to be able to combine specialization with a mental flexibility that allows you to find the answers even in areas of law hitherto unexplored.

    Photo Credits: Sotheby’s Institute of Art

    This interview was conducted in collaboration with, the first community dedicated to training, updating and orientation towards the art professions.


    “In Italy, the authentic is an opinion expressed by anyone on the traceability of an artwork to an artist” Giuseppe Calabi


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