Red tape is stifling German auctions
Art Law

Red tape is stifling German auctions

Nagel Auktionen has held sales abroad to bypass stringent German provenance requirements German auction houses are struggling with increased bureaucracy and a shortage of high-quality consignments after the introduction of the country’s cultural heritage protection law in 2016 by the culture minister Monica Gruetters. Some have even relocated auctions abroad to circumvent stringent import and export restrictions. “The problem is finding things to sell,” says Robert Ketterer, the owner of Ketterer Kunst in Munich. “We have noticed it has become a lot harder because a large number of works of art were transported abroad, mainly to the UK and Switzerland [before the law took effect].” He added that he had noticed pieces that would normally be offered for sale in Germany at auctions abroad. Although Germany is Europe’s largest economy, its share of the international art market is comparatively small. A report by Art Basel put it at around 2% in 2017, compared with 20% for the UK. German auction houses blame costs incurred by laws that are more burdensome than those in rival markets. They cite a sales tax of 19% and a 4% artists’ insurance tax as competitive disadvantages. A ranking of European auction houses by total […]

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