Art is too easy to trace to be used for bribes

Date: 04 Jun 2015


Joshua Rubenstein, National Head of Trusts & Estates of Katten Muchin Rosenman, also says the US is the leading market place for sales of the highest priced art and antiques in the world.

We heard a lot of art is bought in the UK then used in foreign countries for gifts to the powerful rather than going to galleries or private collections. Do you know where the art goes to after being purchased?

While it is well known that commodities are often used for money laundering and other illicit purposes, art is not fungible and far too easy to trace to be used readily in this manner.

Who are the big art buyers? Where do they come from?

Based upon the most recent TEFAF Art Market Report, sales in the art market by dealers and auction houses exceeded $20 billion. In the last ten years, sales have grown by over 130% driven by the expansion of both local and global demand, as well as increasing prices, particularly for Modern and Contemporary art.

The US is the leading market place for sales of the highest priced art and antiques in the world. Increasingly most of the sales of multi-million dollar works at auction are carried out in New York, and most of the largest galleries are based there.

The US had a share of 52% of all lots sold for over $1 million at fine art auctions. In the market for works priced above $10 million, the US heavily dominates, with a 78% share by value and 60% by volume.

What artworks sell the most?

Post War and Contemporary art represents by far the largest sector of the art market in the US, accounting for 59% of the value of sales, with several examples of US and international artists selling for prices in excess of $50 million. The US accounted for 44% of this global sector by value and 21% of lots sold.

The art market in the US is comprised of 72,580 businesses, including 4,080 auction houses and 68,500 businesses in the gallery and dealer sector.

New York is the center for the highest priced sales in the US at auction, with a share of over 90% of all fine art sales by value within the US.

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