Sarah Barker

Partner | London

Client services contact Liberty Marsom


Sarah is a partner and head of the UK art law practice. 

Sarah is deeply immersed in the art industry, having worked for almost twenty years with artists and their estates, galleries, agents and dealers, collectors, foundations, trustees, auction houses, art lenders, fractional ownership platforms, and other industry players such as art businesses within the technology sector.  Sarah advises on the various aspects of the complex and often idiosyncratic relationships in the sector (both from a contentious and non-contentious perspective), and acts as trusted adviser to many of her clients. 
With a background as a City corporate lawyer, Sarah advises on high value transactions for the sale and purchase of fine art and other valuable moveable assets (such as musical instruments, antiques, and precious stones).  She also drafts the contracts underpinning the commercial relationships within the sector (such as consignment agreements, agency agreements, representation agreements, terms of sale, loan agreements, and auction house terms).  Sarah has a particular specialism in the anti-money laundering regulation of the art market.

Sarah is a regular contributor to Apollo - the International Art Magazine, and she has lectured at the Sotheby's Institute of Art. She is a frequent panel speaker, and her views on art law and business matters have been sought by think tanks and various publications including RUSI, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Law, the Art Newspaper, Dazed, and Tatler. She is a member of Professional Advisors to the International Art Market, the Association of Women in the Arts and the Institute of Art & Law.

Listed in 'Who's Who', Sarah sat for three terms on one of the UKs largest philanthropic giving committees for the arts, and she currently sits on the board of St Paul's School.  Sarah also sat on the Advisory Committee for the Circa Art public art project at Piccadilly Circus, and currently sits on the Advisory Committee for ArtClear, a business using technology to link physical artworks to their verifiable digital records.
Headshot of Sarah Barker

Me in a minute

I’ve always enjoyed getting to know people, and the human element plays a big part in taking instructions and understanding objectives.

I feel very lucky to be able to spend my days at the intersection of law, business and the creative industries. My practice is the result of a career as a City corporate lawyer, an art dealer and an entrepreneur who built a boutique law firm specialising in the arts. When I started selling my own artworks in the playground at the age of six (using a written receipt), I suppose the early signs were there.

I love the challenge of my specialist area. The diverse nature of the art sector  -  with all its historically embedded customs but also rapid innovation  -  means that the potential legal issues are multifarious and complex.

I've always enjoyed getting to know people, and the human element plays a big part in taking instructions and understanding objectives. The need to understand the emotions and drivers of discord or choices is particularly critical to advising in this sector. Good commercial common sense, administered with a sound understanding of industry practises, also needs to be applied liberally.

Where there is a dispute, I am proud of my record in achieving the results my clients desire without the need for them to go through the risk, stress and expense of going to court. Where there is business and innovation, I am proud of the additional value I can bring to my clients' businesses.