Trudy Prescott

Trudy Prescott


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Research interests

Trudy’s dissertation critically examines the concept of due diligence as an intentional strategy in helping to secure the goal of balanced, legitimate and effective regulation of the art market.

While the term ‘due diligence’ is frequently invoked in discussions relating to the art market and practices of its participants as if there exists a common definition, its precise meaning, implementation and intended potential goals or actual outcomes vary and are often assumed. Critically ‘due diligence’ as a concept and set of practices that are undertaken (or could be undertaken) by art market participants have not been defined or interrogated rigorously in academic discourse.

This dissertation for the first time examines the development of the concept of and interrogates the use (actual or intended) of ‘due diligence’ practices of both a legal and non-legal kind as tools for regulating the art market. On the one hand, their purpose is to achieve a set of broad public interest goals, including the protecting  heritage and its contextual information from physical harm, enabling States to define their own cultural heritage which needs protection from theft, clandestine excavation and illicit export or which is inalienable, promoting public collecting based on moral principles, enabling return of cultural objects to rightful owners as well as prohibiting and penalising criminal behaviour and righting civil wrongs. At the same time, the scope and content of due diligence requirements are also intended to serve and balance a range of other public interest goals, including the need for transactional certainty, the rights of individuals to enjoy peaceful possession of their property, the substantial public benefit in a vigorous and honourable market in cultural objects, and the desirability of exchanging cultural objects which promote mutual understanding and respect among all peoples. Thus on the one hand are the market-based concerns and on the other are morally-based concerns. However these are not necessarily mutually exclusive nor are the boundaries between them rigidly delineated. Due diligence art market practices provide regulatory tools for achieving these public interest goals. However the conflicts within these aims contribute to the lack of consensus about what the content and scope of due diligence should be, exactly how ‘diligent’ due diligence practices actually should (or should appear to) be, what regulatory purposes they should serve, who should undertake or monitor them and whether or not they are a requirement or simply an voluntary option.

Examining the concept of due diligence highlights the interface between these goals, the shifting balance that is struck between them, and the various public posturing of direct art market participants (trade, institutional and other vested interest groups) and indirect art market participants (government officials, government advisory bodies, elected and appointed representatives). 

Biographical details

Trudy is a PhD student at the School of Law. She began her research at King’s in October 2007 under the supervision of Professor Karen Yeung, receiving an MPhil in autumn 2014. Trudy graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, receiving her B.A. in 1977; her senior thesis catalogued and interpreted a private collection of Pre-Columbian artefacts loaned to the Princeton University Art Museum. She received her MA in 1979 and her PhD in 1979 in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. Her MA focused on the topic of previously academically-unexplored Victorian inexpensive photographic process used for popular portraits and she continued researching photographic portraiture in her PhD, identifying and interpreting published sets of eminent and famous Victorians in the context of hero worship as well as traditional print media publications.

Her professional employment began as Research Associate from 1979-1982 in the photographic collections at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She came to Britain as a Fulbright Fellow in 1982 and 1983, and subsequently was appointed Assistant Curator in the Iconographic Collections at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine and later Curator of the Iconographic Collections in the Grade I and II listed Royal Institution of Great Britain.

She took a career break from curating from 2005 to 2007 in order to study Art Law under Professor Norman Palmer at the Institute of Art and Law and completed the Foundation and Advanced Certificates in Art Law and the Diploma in Art Law Policy and Management. She also completed the Certificate in Terrorism Studies, University of St. Andrews, the Jill Dando Institute’s ‘How to become an Effective Problem Solving Police Analyst,’ the Institute of Business Ethics’ Intermediate ‘Business Ethics’ and ‘Globalizing Ethics and Compliance’ courses, and the FSA Financial Crime money laundering course. From 2005 to 2006 she researched art market practices in light of the Fraud Act 2006 and other recent legislation, publishing with Stephen Philippsohn, ‘Recovering and Realising Art Assets’ (2010) for the Fraud Advisory Panel. She is an accredited CEDR mediator.

Since October 2009 Trudy has been a full-time Metropolitan Police Officer working in the City of Westminster. From January 2007 to September 2009, she served as a Special Constable, Metropolitan Police in Kensington and Chelsea where she developed a partnership crime reduction initiative with art and antique dealers. 

Research interests (short)

Trudy’s recent presentations (Institute of Art and Law, University of Kent) and publications focus on heritage crime and issues: ‘Impacting Heritage Crime within the Metropolitan Police Service’s City of Westminster’s Impact Zone Initiative’ (Art, Antiquity and Law, forthcoming); ‘Tackling Heritage Crime’ (Art, Antiquity and Law, October 2011), ‘Heritage Impacted: What We Stand to Lose if the Royal Institution of Great Britain Sells Its Listed Buildings and Original Home’ (Art Antiquity and Law, December 2012). She has contributed a chapter on ‘Protecting Heritage: United Kingdom Law and Regulation and Implementation of International Instruments’ in David Eckner (ed) Regulation of Art Investments (Brill, forthcoming). Her other research published in Art, Law and Antiquity includes: ‘Much Ado about Cultural Object Databases’ and ‘The Case of the Queue: A Legal and Ethical Consultation Document’; her book reviews have appeared in Art, Antiquity and LawThe Art Newspaper and The British Journal of Criminology. Her research on the fixtures, fittings, and art associated historically with the Grade I and II listed building on 21 Albemarle Street was privately published as the ‘Room Gazetteer’ and was part of the Royal Institution of Great Britain’s Conservation Plan. During the mid 1980s and early 1990s, her analyses of the art market trends and practices were published in Apollo, The Art Newspaper, Art and Auction, and The Economist. Academic articles stemming from her portraiture research include: ‘Forging Identity: The Royal Institution’s Visual Collections’ in The Common Purposes of Life, ‘Gleams of Glory: Forging Learned Society Portrait Collections’ in Fields of Influence: Conjunctions of Artists and Scientists 1815-1860Britishness and Portraiture,’ in Myths of the English, ‘Portraits for the Nation’ in History Today,‘Gachet and Johnston-Saint: the Provenance of Van Gogh’s L’Homme a la Pipe, illustrations from the Wellcome Institute Library’ in Medical History and ‘Faraday: Image of the Man and the collector,’ in Faraday Rediscovered

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Philosophy, King's College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2014

Postgraduate Certificate , Institute of Art and Law

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006

Master of Arts, University of Texas at Austin

Award Date: 1 Jan 1979

Doctor of Philosophy, Fame and Photography: Portrait Publications in Great Britain, 1856-1900, University of Texas at Austin

Award Date: 1 Jan 1979

Bachelor of Arts, Pre-Columbian art in the Princeton University Art Museum and its social interpretation, Princeton University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1977


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