Pool of Arbitrators

Nicholas O'Donnell

Partner and Founder of the Art & Museum Law practice, Sullivan

Nicholas is an attorney with nearly 20 years’ experience. His practice focuses primarily on complex civil litigation, where he has served as lead counsel on a variety of lawsuits concerning restitution and fine art sales and has advised museums, dealers, auction houses, and collectors worldwide about restitution, copyright, and de-accessioning issues, with particular experience in the German-speaking world.

Nicholas has broad litigation experience in title and restitution disputes, as well as agency and commercial contract disputes in the art world. Among other representative matters, he is lead counsel to plaintiffs seeking restitution of the Guelph Treasure, sold by Jewish art dealers in 1935 to the Prussian government, the first case in which a U.S. court has found jurisdiction over a German state museum for claims to allegedly Nazi-looted art. Philipp v. F.R.G., 894 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2018). He also represented Artmentum GmbH in a widely publicized $204 million lawsuit over sale of a fine art collection, winning a motion to dismiss all claims in Art Assure Ltd., LLC v. Artmentum GmbH et al., Case No. 1:14-cv-03757 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y.). He has written extensively, including A Tragic Fate Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi Looted Art (Ankerwycke 2017), the first comprehensive overview of disputes in the U.S. over allegedly Nazi-looted art. He has further written “Public Trust or Private Business? Deaccessioning Law and Ethics in the United States,” in Éthique et Patrimoine Culturel - Regard Croisés, G. Goffaux, ed., (L’Harmattan, 2016); “Vergangenheit als Zukunft? Restitutions-streitigkeiten in den Vereinigten Staaten,” in Ersessene Kunst—Der Fall Gurlitt, J. Heil and A. Weber, eds., (Metropol, 2015); and “Nazi-Looted Art—Risks and Best Practices for Museums,” in The Legal Guide for Museum Professionals, Julia Courtney, ed., (2015, Rowman & Littlefield). Nicholas is also the editor of the Art Law Report and a frequent contributor to Apollo magazine.

Nicholas is admitted to the bars of Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia, as well as numerous federal courts around the United States (including the Supreme Court). He is currently co-chair (2020-2022) of the International Bar Association’s Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Law Committee. He is a member of the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, of which he is the chair of the International Art Market Subcommittee. He is the co-chair of the New York chapter of the Responsible Art Market (RAM) Initiative, and a member of RAM’s Advisory Committee.

Nicholas has a BA magna cum laude in Art History from Williams College, and a JD from Boston College Law School. He speaks and reads English, German, and Spanish, and has a working knowledge of French.

Jurisdiction: U.S.A.