Arts and Culture

Museums, theaters, galleries and other arts and cultural institutions turn to Munger, Tolles & Olson for the firm’s delicate approach to high-level and often public legal matters. The firm fields a cross-disciplinary team of attorneys to address cultural institutions’ needs in the areas of corporate transactions, commercial litigation, international law litigation, bankruptcy proceedings, corporate governance, tax matters and more.

Many of these situations involve complex issues such as alleged violations of cultural patrimony laws, sensitive financial issues and strategic corporate transactions.

The firm represents some of the most well-known and respected organizations in the country, including the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Pasadena Playhouse. The firm has worked on numerous high-profile cases which required a knowledge of the law, an understanding of industry practices and a sense of propriety.

A list of some of the firm’s experience includes representing:

  • Pacific Asia Museum in its affiliation with USC, creating the USC Pacific Asia Museum, one of the few U.S. museums dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
  • The Norton Simon Museum in obtaining summary judgment dismissing claims to recover "Adam" and "Eve," two paintings that were subject to Nazi-coerced sales during World War II. The victory was named among the Daily Journal’s Top Verdicts of 2016 and earned the defense team a Daily Journal 2017 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award.
  • The J. Paul Getty Trust:
    • in settling claims brought by the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America alleging that eight pages from the Zeyt’un Gospels, a medieval Armenian gospel manuscript, were the property of the Church.
    • in connection with claims from both the Italian and Greek governments, that objects in the Getty’s collection had been removed from their homelands in violation of cultural patrimony laws. Munger Tolles aided the Getty in negotiating with the Italian and Greek governments to return some of the requested objects, while also reaching wide-ranging agreements with Italy and Greece for continued cultural exchanges with the Getty.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in connection with various matters, including the museum’s agreement with The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the California Attorney General’s audit of the museum, various litigation matters and general corporate advice.
  • The Motion Picture and Television Fund, which provides a continuum of services to individuals in the motion picture and television industry and their families, in general corporate advice, strategic transactions and labor matters.
  • Pasadena Playhouse, serving as debtor's counsel in developing a restructuring strategy for the 86-year-old cultural institution that enabled it to confirm its reorganization plan and emerge from bankruptcy only two months after commencing its case.
  • One of the statutory members of The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in various corporate and governance matters relating to its interest in the museum, including the corporate restructuring of the museum to remove one of its original statutory members.
  • The Annenberg Trust at Sunnylands in general corporate advice.
  • Princeton University Art Museum in an investigation by the Italian government related to the acquisition of certain art antiquities.
  • The Los Angeles Review of Books in its separation from UC Riverside and affiliation with the PEN Center USA.

Lawyers at Munger Tolles frequently represent artists on a pro bono basis through the nonprofit entity, The California Lawyers for the Arts. 

Luis Li (213) 683-9205