Not Surprisingly, the Art Industry is Fighting the Regulations
October 1, 2019 11:23 AM   Subscribe

After a slew of recent cases in the United States and Europe, the momentum toward a crackdown on illicit art and antiquities deals is growing. The legitimate art market is itself enormous—estimated at $67.4 billion worldwide at the end of 2018. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the underground art market, which includes thefts, fakes, illegal imports, and organized looting, may bring in as much as $6 billion annually. The portion attributed to money laundering and other financial crimes is in the $3 billion range. The Art of Money Laundering by Tom Mashberg for the IMF
posted by chavenet (9 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some words should never have the word "industry" after them, and "art" is one.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


This comment is a work of art, for sale for $10,000.
posted by sammyo at 11:44 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here is the Adam Ruins Everything segment about fine art, which is a brief explainer about how it's all tax evasion / money laundering.
posted by Horkus at 11:46 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


I have a friend who is now working as a capital A Artist and recently a gallery owner stole several of her works, handed them out or sold to others, as well as damaged others. She's working on suing his ass, and we joked about her art getting stolen being a "level up" in some sense but goddamn still infuriating how much time and work she puts into these things only to have them stolen by some rich dipshit who thinks he can get away with it. Apparently this ordeal was tied up with some investments and failed business shit he was involved in, including a MoMa cafe that wasn't authorized or affiliated with the actual MoMa. She's not selling multimillion dollar works yet, I don't think, she had a huge installation recently but it's crazy seeing her shooting up through the art world and already encountering the early tastes of some of the dark shit behind what is unfortunately an industry.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:50 AM on October 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


I’ve been enjoying following the Salvator Mundi scandal ever since critic Jerry Saltz argued that it’s a fake Leonardo and a “two-dimensional ersatz dashboard Jesus.” Who wants to spend $450 million on a potentially invented Leonardo? Someone who’s keeping it a no show: “the painting appears to have simply vanished. It never went on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi as planned and no one is able or willing to explain why.“
posted by sallybrown at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have a friend who is now working as a capital A Artist and recently a gallery owner stole several of her works, handed them out or sold to others, as well as damaged others. She's working on suing his ass, and we joked about her art getting stolen being a "level up" in some sense but goddamn still infuriating how much time and work she puts into these things only to have them stolen by some rich dipshit who thinks he can get away with it. Apparently this ordeal was tied up with some investments and failed business shit he was involved in, including a MoMa cafe that wasn't authorized or affiliated with the actual MoMa. She's not selling multimillion dollar works yet, I don't think, she had a huge installation recently but it's crazy seeing her shooting up through the art world and already encountering the early tastes of some of the dark shit behind what is unfortunately an industry.

Sorry to say I know exactly the guy you’re talking about. The times covered the lawsuit between him and MoMa.
posted by FGR at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


When I hear "$6 billion" and "$3 billion," I hear [really big number] and [half as large really big number].

For context: That $6 billion is 78 cents per person in the world. It's about 1 percent of the worldwide market for illicit drugs. If the $3 billion were all money laundering, it would be somewhere around 20 cents of every $100 laundered. (An estimated $800 billion to $2,000 billion-that is, $2 trillion-is laundered worldwide annually.)

So interesting, but not too shocking in scale.

Also, that $67.4 billion is sales, not consumption. If I sell my $50 million painting to you and you buy my $50 million sculpture, that's $100 million in sales (and millions in commissions for someone), but it's not really like spending $100 million on...well, I can't think of anything you could really spend $100 million on, but that's obviously my failure of imagination. Fancy restaurant meals? Cocaine?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ben Lewis's recent book The Last Leonardo is worth checking out for the meticulous exploration of the Salvator Mundi scandal as well as a window into the art-for-money-laundering world.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 1:29 PM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


well, I can't think of anything you could really spend $100 million on

Boeing Business Jet, Dan Synder's Yacht, three islands in Panama.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:50 PM on October 1, 2019


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