Bulletins | July 7, 2023

Profile: Tim Maxwell

We were delighted to welcome the Art & Luxury team late last year, led by Tim Maxwell and Rudy Capildeo. Here, we profile Tim Maxwell.

Tim’s practice focuses on disputes relating to art and other luxury assets. The Art & Luxury team offers a full service to the sector encompassing both contentious and non-contentious advice. Clients range from artists, private collectors and international art galleries through to collector car dealers, fine wine and yacht financiers, and private equity backed musical instrument funds. They have recently acted on some ground-breaking cases relating to artists’ rights and high-value title disputes, worked with philanthropists to help save collections for the nation, secured access to government tax relief schemes for families’ heritage assets and helped clients to achieve world-record auction results.

What particular trends do you see in the art market?

The cultural property market is seeing great upheaval as greater focus comes to bear over historically controversial pieces. There is more institutional investment entering the market since the anti-money laundering regulations were extended to the art market. Recently some have been using art as an alternative asset class particularly in view of the recent low interest rate environment (which has now changed).

We are also witnessing a proliferation in the role of art adviser. There are some very good ones we work with who are attractive for expertise and guidance but you have to know who you are dealing with as there is lack of regulation which has led to some notable scandals. Legal developments continue apace – please see the article (click here) on the change to the legal definition of “treasure” which the government recently announced.

What aspects of your practice do you particularly enjoy?

Every day presents new experiences so you are never sure what is going to cross your desk. It may be delving into the history behind an Old Master, a dispute between governments as to ownership of an antiquity or shipwreck, tracing title to a valuable collector car or a trip to an artist’s studio to better understand their work and how to protect it. Wedlake Bell continues to sponsor Chelsea Art Society and have expanded their support to London Art Week. Why is this important? Wedlake Bell have supported Chelsea Art Society for the last eight years. Founded in 1910, it is the oldest and sole survivor of the many art groups that thrived in the area around that period. Each year we award a prize to an artist at the exhibition and this year the category was “Best Young Artist under 35” and was won by Inga Knysh for her watercolour “Summer in Covent Garden”.

We’ve also partnered with London Art Week as part of ongoing art events over the summer, the partnership fits well with Wedlake Bell’s wide-ranging experience and focus on private collectors.

Any top tips for individuals when choosing art works?

My top tips would be to do your due diligence on the artwork, the artist and their market before you purchase. Always get a written record of your purchase and never be afraid to ask awkward questions. Do get in touch if you have any queries and we would be glad to help.

What is your own art collection like?

It does not compare to most of our clients and may not quite be museum quality yet! It is an eclectic mix from occasional Old Masters, street art and local artists Emma Dunbar and Fi Pearce. My family are quite creative so it includes a number of their pieces. I think the test is whether you can live with a piece for a long time and still enjoy it every day.