UK galleries and auction houses will have to pay full VAT (value added tax, which goes up to 20% next year) and customs dues on video and light works, when they are imported from outside the EU. The decision is binding on all member states.
A sense of perspective is in order, says the former federal agent Robert Wittman, who now runs a private consultancy. “Is art used to launder money? Sure it is. But the foundations of the art world are based on real collectors buying real art. Money laundering is part of the criminal underworld—it’s on the fringes.” Robert Storr, the dean of the Yale University School of Art, agrees. He says that, although there is opportunity, “not everybody becomes a crook. Suspecting the entire art world of massive fraud and larceny, as politicians are prone to do, is like suspecting every waiter at a five-star restaurant of stealing champagne and caviar or hogging tips.”....
A spokesman for Christie’s says: “We have strict policies and procedures in place with regards [to] payments, including a global anti-money laundering programme.” According to its catalogues, Christie’s has a $7,500 limit on cash payments (Sotheby’s limit is $10,000 or the local currency equivalent).
The indictment unsealed on Tuesday said Liberty Reserve had more than a million users worldwide, including at least 200,000 in the United States, and virtually all of its business was related to suspected criminal activity.
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