CINOA Celebrates 75 years of helping Art and Antique dealers
The founding members of CINOA in 1935, under the Presidency of J. P. Van Goidsenhoven, Belgium
CINOA stands for Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvre d’Art. It can be loosely translated as “the international federation of art and antique dealer associations” or even “the United Nations of dealer associations”. The acronym and the Belgian registered non-profit organisation for which it stands, were founded in 1935, and celebrate the 75 anniversary.
CINOA’s aims are to encourage high ethical standards in the trade, facilitate legitimate circulation of art works throughout the world, and disseminate practical information on the art market. Today it is made up of 32 art and antique associations from 22 countries and embraces some 5000 members worldwide, almost doubling in size since 1981. Dealers cover a wide array of specialties from antiquities to contemporary art. Many countries are represented by more than one national association. Membership of CINOA is based on associations which bind their dealer members to adhere to reputable standards of quality and expertise. Membership of CINOA by an individual can only be through a national association.
One of CINOA’s major functions is to assist national associations in dealing with their trade issues. Here, international co-operation is very important. Issues are often paralleled in more than one country, and in any case frequently impact significantly on others. For instance the application of VAT on imported goods sold on the European (EU) market benefitted the US art and antique market, and adversely impacted on London as a major trading centre relying on imports. Another recent example has been the introduction of Droit de Suite (DdS), the artist’s royalties payment scheme. It too affected the EU, but not the US. It has also been “copied” and adapted, where it is better known as Artist’s Resale Royalties (or ARR).
Another and more current issue is the US embargo on the import of a wide range of Chinese cultural heritage items – at the request of the Chinese Government. The novelty of such a situation is that, rather than banning the export of its patrimony, one country has sought cooperation of another country asking it to bar the import. US acquiescence to the Chinese request was predicted by the US delegation at the 2006 CINOA Conference (in Utrecht). It was duly implemented, as expected, in the very last gasp of the Bush administration in 2009. Will China now ask for similar restrictive action by other nations and will others copy the Chinese move? An international federation of interested parties is very important in monitoring such situations.
Quite apart from these significant issues, since 1935 numerous other factors affecting the world of trading in art and antiques have been introduced. These include VAT (Australian GST), CITES (which restricts export and import on endangered species including Ivory), and Unidroit regulations (the international harmonisation of commercial laws). To this can be added a host of domestic complexities such as the introduction of the buyer’s premium at auction, and the onerous regulations for traders and dealers (eg the “Kent Bill” in UK). In a market, challenged by increasing regulations, both nationally and internationally, it is clear that the future holds plenty for national associations to cope with. CINOA will play an important communication and information role in this respect as well as providing an international voice.
CINOA is also pro-active in the art and antiques dealing world. It was under the auspices of CINOA, and in particular its then President Jean Cailleux, that the first international Art Theft Conference took place in Paris in 1977. This was attended by 150 people including police force representatives from eight countries. CINOA has also held exhibitions in the world’s major museums, including the Musée des Artes Décoratifs (Paris 1954), The V & A (London 1962), The Historical Museum (Amsterdam 1970), and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York 1975). In 1976 CINOA instituted a prize awarded for an academic publication or a remarkable contribution to furthering cultural preservation. To reflect today’s evolving market place and geographical coverage, CINOA has been building on their website which provides a virtual shopwindow for CINOA, its members and affiliated dealers.
Whilst many of the benefits of CINOA membership devolve through the national associations, there are some very direct marketing benefits to individual member. CINOA’s website (CINOA.org) offers members and the public a comprehensive resource for the art and antique market including a directory of CINOA’s world-wide membership. CINOA.org caters to both new and established collectors in addition to the inter-trading of its dealer members. CINOA.org provides a virtual shop window for affiliated dealers only to showcase items for sale.
So what does all this say about the art and antiques trade and 75 years of an international federation of its associations? When the former President Gerald.G.Stiebel (1981-1983) was asked “What is the point of CINOA?” he replied “What is the point of the United Nations?!”
Jolyon Warwick James is a silver, historian, valuer and dealer based in Sydney. He is the President of the AAADA NSW chapter, the Australian delegate to CINOA, and is a CINOA board member.