Art at The Bar: Competition Law and Civil Liability in the Art Market Regulation

Authors: Andrea Parziale


The art market is rapidly developing along the ways of globalisation, digitalisation, and democratisation. Yet, it has several characteristics that favour market manipulation, such as lack of transparency and conflicts of interest. Despite substantial advancements, it is acknowledged that sector regulation does not address such limitations properly. In the light of US, EU, and national case-law, this article assesses the role that competition law could play in the art sector, also in conjunction with civil liability. It is found that competition law enforcement in the art market has been scarce so far. It provided for effective reaction tools against few, significant market manipulation strategies carried out by key auction houses. On those occasions, competition authorities and undertakings set shared, basic rules of conduct through commitments. Such cases also seem to have inspired recent self- and heteroregulatory initiatives. All in all, competition law seems to play the residual role of a sentinel in the secondary art market. In contrast, whether or not competition law will be enforced in the authentication service sector mainly depends on how private enforcement will develop in the EU and the US.

Keywords: Art – Auction Houses – Online Platforms – Authentication Boards – Regulation – Competition Law – Civil Liability – EU