Baseless and ignorant speculation in the press about the imminent regulation in the art market is reaching a fever pitch. Here the Globe and Mail speculates that the Bouvier scandal is about money laundering. It’s not.
Some collectors may see artworks as financial assets rather than objects to admire. But keeping them in duty-free limbo raises tricky questions for governments anxious to stamp out money laundering and tax dodging. The Financial Action Task Force on money laundering has been concerned about freeports since 2010, and money laundering is one of the raps alleged against Mr. Bouvier. The high-end airport lock-ups also look a lot like physical versions of the under-the-radar offshore bank accounts upon which U.S., British and other authorities have been clamping down.
Earlier this year, economist Nouriel Roubini singled out the art market as being in need of regulation, adding the potential for price manipulation to tax and money-laundering concerns. The Basel Institute on Governance has also warned of the high volume of illegal and suspicious transactions involving art.
Worse still, connecting a pile of spuriously related stories and suggesting darkly that some unnamed authorities are going start getting serious about regulating art does little to actually advance the agenda of creating a meaningful regulatory framework that can function across jurisdictions, facilitate legitimate trade in art and limit its use for corrupt purposes.
Art market edges toward crackdown (The Globe and Mail)