Renewed Foundation Support Affirms Importance of IFAR's Art Law/ Cultural Property Website Initiative

March 2011

New York, NY -- The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR), a not-for-profit educational and research organization established in 1969, has been awarded renewed support from two prestigious grantmakers – the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation – for its landmark project, the Art Law/Cultural Property Website Initiative (ALWI). 

ALWI is an ambitious new Web-based resource that provides timely, comprehensive information on domestic and international legislation, statutes and case law concerning the ownership, transfer and authenticity of art and other cultural objects.  At a time when issues surrounding the legal and ethical ownership of art objects – from artwork looted by the Nazis and not returned after WWII to antiquities stolen during recent periods of turmoil in Iraq and Egypt – occupy the front pages of newspapers and the legal and curatorial departments of museums, ALWI fills the void for a central resource and user-friendly tool to help navigate this essential but mushrooming and difficult-to-find body of information.

ALWI, which is continually being updated and expanded, gathers in one place (
•    International cultural property legislation in both original language and English translations. 
•    Summaries of U.S. case law and statutes in IFAR’s fields of interest, including World War II-era/Holocaust related art loss; Cultural Property (antiquities)   disputes over non-United States property; Art theft; and Art fraud, attribution, authenticity, forgery, libel, defamatory statements.
•    “Contact” information for government cultural officials worldwide.
•    Current standards and guidelines for museums, dealers, archaeologists and other arts professionals and organizations.

ALWI has several unique features, such as country summaries extracted from the foreign legislation, which provide snapshot views of the legislation and links to any relevant U.S. case law. ALWI also provides images of art works at issue in the legal cases.  

The recent grants bring to $150,000 each the amount received from the Robert Sterling Clark and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundations.  Support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation stems from its important new “post-9/11 initiative to mobilize public-private partnerships that spur international cultural engagement. This is important for public diplomacy and improved global understanding,” stated Margaret Ayers, President of the Foundation.    

In renewing its support, the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation “applauded IFAR’s extensive efforts to date and the vast acceptance of ALWI,” which is being used by museums, libraries, universities, government agencies, and individuals nationwide and around the world.  

ALWI has generated substantial interest and support from a number of other prominent funders including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal grant-making agency, which awarded the Project a prestigious National Leadership Grant, calling it “invaluable to the museum community.” 

In expressing gratitude to its supporters, IFAR’s Executive Director, Dr. Sharon Flescher, said, “IFAR, a pioneer with respect to cultural property issues, has amassed an extensive archive of material on the ethical, legal and scholarly concerns surrounding the ownership and authenticity of art objects. We appreciate that visionary funders like the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and Peter Jay Sharp Foundations recognize the value of partnering to make this information widely available.  These new grants will enable IFAR to continue to expand the Site and maintain its accuracy and timeliness, while we identify strategies to ensure its long-term sustainability.”  

Dr. Flescher noted that the creation of ALWI – one of two new research tools on its Website, the other being the Catalogue Raisonné Database Project – has been part of a larger IFAR initiative to transform its Website into an information resource that advances the organization’s educational and research mission.  IFAR also publishes the award-winning IFAR Journal; organizes lectures and conferences; and offers provenance services and a unique Art Authentication Research Service.  For more information, please visit