I'm a 2023 Nixon Peabody Pro Bono Champion.Read more about our Pro Bono program
Thaddeus Stauber advises the world’s leading cultural institutions, foreign sovereigns, international art collectors, dealers, artists, universities, foundations, estates and individuals. With a deep passion and appreciation for the arts and practice of law, Thaddeus has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor and skilled negotiator for the art world’s leading players.
From representing the estates and families of legendary artists such as Pablo Picasso, to leading high-profile courtroom wins and groundbreaking crossover deals, to advising next generation artists like Sterling Ruby and international contemporary art galleries, Thaddeus understands the art industry and international marketplace. His ability to identify and bring in the right experts across the globe and team with a client’s existing counsel and advisors is invaluable to our clients.
Thanks to our courtroom skills, judgment and international experience, my team and I have secured precedent setting wins for our clients. We have an unmatched proven track record of prevailing in high-stakes matters involving priceless artwork, cultural property and contractual and intellectual rights while vigorously defending our clients’ personal and professional reputations.
My team and I have successfully represented our clients’ interests in courtroom trials and proceedings throughout the U.S. and in arbitral bodies worldwide, including controversies spanning Europe, Asia and Latin America. I have now personally argued cases in six different federal circuits (D.C., 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th), along with numerous state courts.
Notable cases include representing Hungary in an international action challenging the country’s historical ownership of more than 40 artworks and defending a challenge to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation’s ownership of important artwork by Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro in federal court. Most recently, my team and I led the courtroom defense and negotiations to resolve competing claims in European and U.S. courts for Pablo Picasso’s daughter in an international dispute over a $115 million sculpture. We also led the defense and negotiations in a highly publicized adverse ownership claim against the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art that resulted in a first-of-its-kind U.S.-French international art sharing agreement.
I also work with galleries, museums, artists, major collectors and dealers in significant art and cultural property transactions, consignments and commissions. We work on the forefront of the global explosion of contemporary art and the merging of art, fashion, media and finance, including our groundbreaking negotiation and deal structuring for Sterling Ruby and Raf Simons/Calvin Klein along with helping our artist and gallery clients as they expand and enter global markets with cross-border transactions.
Under my direction, my team served as deal counsel on the unprecedented San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Fisher Family agreement. The agreement brought the world-renowned Fisher Collection, an 1,100-piece private collection of modern and contemporary artwork, to SFMOMA, and included a complex development agreement as the roadmap for the recently completed SFMOMA’s museum expansion. I’m particularly proud of The Art Institute of Chicago’s acquisition of Edvard Munch’s Girl Looking out the Window (1893) and the important European sculpture Sampson with Lion, and had the privilege of putting together agreements for the Venice Biennale, Lucian Freud’s first U.S. museum commission, and numerous contemporary art commissions along with site-specific installation and international exhibition agreements.
Print, broadcast and social media add a layer of complexity to an already tenuous situation when you are facing litigation. Intervening quickly, and with the right message, can make a positive difference when it comes to protecting your reputation. I have considerable experience guiding institutions and public figures through these emergent situations to restore not only public trust, but the confidence of board leadership, donors and the marketplace as well.
Strategic advisor and lead negotiator to foreign sovereigns, universities and art owners in governmental affairs, investigations and law enforcement actions involving U.S. Department of State, U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and New York District Attorney’s Office
Los Angeles Privacy & Technology partner and Arts & Cultural Institutions team leader Thaddeus Stauber is quoted in this article about an ownership dispute over “The Wounded Indian” statue, which was part of a Massachusetts-based collection and thought to have been destroyed in the 1950s, but was later seen on display at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA. Thaddeus discusses the complex nature of such art ownership cases and the difficulties that can be presented by a lack of documentation and the passage of time.
Nixon Peabody partner and head of the firm’s Art and Cultural Institutions team Thaddeus Stauber is quoted in this article discussing recent art restitution cases. The article calls Thaddeus one of the leaders in defending museums in such cases.
U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
University of Dayton, B.S., Finance, with honors
University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D., cum laude
Thaddeus Stauber is a member of Collections, an elite forum of independent senior lawyers to collectors, institutions, the trade, and to artists and their estate. He is also a founding member of Summaeverythang Community Center, Inc., a charitable organization based in South Central Los Angeles which donates and delivers organic produce from Southern California farms to South Central L.A.
Defense trial counsel on cases ranging from attempted murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, sexual assault, defamation, 1st Amendment, and death penalty post-trial conviction appeal. Obtained numerous jury trial acquittals.
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