General information & downloads

What is an art dealer?

Art trade differs substantially from other commercial activity.

As a mediator of original pieces of art this occupation does not only aim at achieving profit but also has a cultural duty. As a concequence the art dealer is not only a businessman but also a consultant. Therefore the relationship between art dealer and art buyer implies a special high degree of personal trust.
In contrast to user goods and consumer goods, objects of art are characterised by qualities which are not easily recognizable for laymen. Therefore, special knowledge and adaquate professional experience are necessary for the mediation.
The federal federation itself belongs to the Confederation Internationale des Negociants en Oeuvres d'Art (C.I.N.O.A.). It therefore expects from the members of its land federations that they are aware of their special responsibility of the occupation, practise it according to the written and unwritten principles of the professional organisation and identify in particular with the occupational picture of the art dealer.

Behavioral code of art trade

In order to reach the described aims in favour of the customer, German art trade has submitted to a binding behavioral code for international trade with pieces of art which is as follows:

In view of the worldwide concern about trading with stolen antiques and pieces of art and the illegal export of these objects, as well as the ban of trade with objects from kinds-protected materials, German art trade submits to the following behavioral norms:

  1. German art trade will not participate in the import, export or trade of objects of which one suspects that

    1. the seller has not the valid right to posses the object, especially if the object was acquired through theft or in other illegal ways.

    2. an imported object was acquired under offence against the right in its original country.

    3. an imported object was dug or taken from an excavation sites without necessary permission.

  2. Furthermore German art trade pledges that no obejct will be exhibited, described, examined, valued or kept the intention, not only to prevent its illegal trade or export but also to favour it.

  3. Within the scope of the given legal possibilities German art trade will further exert itself for the return of stolen or illegally exported objects in their country of origin provided that the proof of wrongful exportation has been delivered, which requires the return within an adequate time and is granted an adequate compensation in case of a lawful aquisition.

  4. German art trade recommends the regulations of the protection of endangered species laws. It will also not take part in trade with objects from kind-protected materials which are produced after discharge of the Washington protection of endangered species agreement (CITES) in the future. It will follow its declaration duty according to the valid protection of endangered species regulations conscientiously.

  5. German art trade will also not undertake anything likely to promote unlawful trade or export of objects of art. It will rather help its obstruction by all means.

  6. Offence against this behavioral code is pursued by the signed federations with the means available irrespective of the person.

  7. This behavioral code concerns all objects which are usually an object of antique and art trade. The signed federations will oblige their members on the observance of this code.

Gaining a membership in the federation of the Hessian antique and art trade

The federation is a union which consits of professional retail dealers who act full-time and predominantly with objects of art and antiques according to the customs rate numbers 9701 to 9703, 9705 and 9706.

The federation represents the common professional interests of its members, in particular with regard to the support of the international competitiveness of German art trade. It is a member of the federal federation of German art and antique trade (BDKA) and supports its objectives.

The federation promotes the occupational picture of the art dealer laid down in the statute of the BDKA as a conscientious and competent art mediator who does justice to the special trust of his customers. The federation should also make the competence of its members available to a broader general public.

Prerequisite to admission is either a minimum of five-year-old independent activity in the art trade or an equival qualification. The applicant must lead his business following the principles of a sincere businessman and show knowledge of the cultural-historical and art-historical basic concepts including the most important appropriate literature.

The application for admission in the federation is possible if two in this subject certified colleagues, who must be federation members themselves and work in the same field as the applicant, give their guarantee.

After fulfilling all these conditions the application process is taken in inspection by professional colleagues and the applicant is suggested to admission to the general board. Within a period of eight weeks members can express their possible doubts.

The liability of the art dealer

The art dealer takes over full legal liability for the qualities of objects of art which are checked and declared in writing after his best knowledge and conscientious. There is not the restriction of liability usual in other branches by general terms of sale for the members of the BDKA.

The arbitration board of the BDKA

If a customer of a BDKA member's company still has an objection, it is possible for him to call the arbitration board of the BDKA. Members of the arbitration board are confessed art dealers - often with former juridical training - who will try to find a quick and fair solution for the dispute.

Membership in the federal federation of German art and antique trade (BDKA)

In Germany a total of six land federations exist. In order to bundle the interests, they have united in a federal federation.

The federal federation regulates all national interests of the land federations, pursues the arbitration board, organises the exhibitions ordered by the land federations and represents the land federations in the C.I.N.O.A.