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The era of opacity in the art world might well be coming to an end soon. Reports over the last few months have indicated that the shift to online galleries has meant a turn away from unlisted pricing, and now, new regulations (and liabilities) mean that galleries will soon have to keep more public track of who has been buying what.
Last week, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued an advisory suggesting that the art market’s loose regulations and general lack of transparency could lead to financial crime (like money laundering and evading sanctions).
Artnet explains the relevance: earlier this year, a congressional report found that art dealers and auction houses had been used as intermediaries to move money around on behalf of people who’d been sanctioned.
Per the report, the use of shell companies and intermediaries to buy, hold, or sell art is a huge risk for galleries and dealers, and the Treasury Department is suggesting art dealers and galleries create compliance programs to scrutinize their transactions and know who they’re working with. A lawyer Artnet spoke to explained that while he wasn’t sure what prompted this particular advisory, “Further scrutiny and further regulation in the US art world is coming.”
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