International conference
What prospects for "orphan works"?

International conference
What prospects for "orphan works"?

Reflections on cultural goods without provenance
University of Geneva, 4th- 5th February 2021


The University of Geneva, UNIDROIT and the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art are organising a colloquium on 4th and 5th February 2021 on the theme of "Orphan Works".

The UNESCO 1970 and UNIDROIT 1995 Conventions have defined a legal framework necessary to fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property. In Switzerland, the Federal Law on the Transfer of Cultural Property has been in effect since 2005.

Nevertheless, questions arise around archaeological and ethnographic objects, and more generally works of art, present in public or private collections, for which there are neither archives nor material proof of their existence in these collections.

So what to do with works without archives? What should be done if the owner wishes to move, sell or lend them? What should be envisaged for the future?

Could patrimonialization of private collections –in forms to be studied – allow their regularisation?

The Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, the University of Geneva and UNIDROIT wish to initiate a reflection without taboos between the various protagonists involved in the art market: collectors, gallery owners, lawyers, historians and archaeologists, curators, judiciary, customs and police brigades specialising in the repression of fraud, in order to find, in the long term, a reasonable solution that takes account of reality and does not harm either the objects, the bona fide owners or the researchers.

In view of the health measures, the conference will be held online and by registration.