In just a few weeks, we will be launching the Artelligence podcast. One of the first interviews will be with and her thesis advisor, Benjamin Mandel to discuss the mysterious gap in value presented in China art trade figures with the US.
Until we can dig deeper into the subject, BusinessWeek does a nice job summarizing Rossiter’s research on the gap between reported important and export values for works of art traveling between China and the US:
she has found a reason for the transoceanic jump: widespread circumvention of Chinese laws meant to restrict export of high-value cultural property. “Objects over 100 years of age are misclassified in order to avoid scrutiny by Chinese export officials, then reclassified properly when brought to the United States,” Rossiter writes in her thesis. “I found that smuggling of cultural heritage items is rampant.”
The sums involved underscore the tremendous size of the trade in Chinese objects over a century old. For the period Rossiter examined, from 2000 through 2012, the gap between the declared values totaled nearly $1.4 billion. “Due to China’s rich cultural history and the vast amount of antiques and objects that accompany this history, China is considered one of the premiere ‘source’ countries in the world,” she writes in the thesis, whose findings were earlier reported in the Art Newspaper. […]
The exports are only half the story. As China’s rich have transformed the country into a top international art market, import data can also reveal misdeeds. When art comes into China, its value is generally under-reported: “Because import tax on fine art is so high in China, tax avoidance is a substantial explanation,” she writes. “[A] money-laundering scheme is created through purchasing art outside of China, then shipping the object marked with a low value back into the country. Then the object is either held as a store of value or sold for cash within China’s borders.”