CINOA FACT SHEET on FIGHTING BOGUS INFORMATION ABOUT THE ART MARKET – 02/2021
FIGHTING BOGUS INFORMATION ABOUT THE ART MARKET – 2021
It is an astonishing fact that the overwhelming volume of data used to promote the idea of the art market as a haven for international crime is bogus. Of equal concern is the fact that it is the authorities themselves – from law enforcement to law makers – who often propagate this bogus data, giving it the credence it does not deserve, and so clearing the way for it to influence policy. The result is that vital time and resources are spent on inflicting serious damage to legitimate
interests while overlooking significant problems that need attention. This report provides primary source evidence to show this, as well as explaining how and why this happens.
SOME FACTS TO CONSIDER
– According to the FBI and insurance companies, the single largest cause of crime linked to artworks is domestic burglary – a misdemeanour that does not involve the art market.
– According to annual figures on illicit trade published by the World Customs Organisation, international crime involving artworks and other cultural property is by far the smallest category of risk, and it barely registers compared to other categories.
– In 2020, the UK Government’s national risk assessment concluded that the risk of terrorist financing through the art market was “low”.
– A 2020 report by the RAND Corporation, arguably the most highly respected independent research organisation in the United States, with a 75-year pedigree, found that claims regarding high levels of crime associated with the art market were groundless.
– The US Senate claim that US banking regulations don’t apply to multi-million dollar art transactions – supposedly justifying stringent new anti-money laundering legislation (AML) – ignores the fact that most high-value transactions are subject to such regulations as they pass through the banking system.
– CINOA is unaware of a single case globally where trafficked artworks have conclusively been shown to fund terrorism. This is in spite of the vast resources dedicated over decades to showing this is a problem.
– Those who have published, or continue to publish, bogus data include (but are not limited to) the European Commission, Interpol, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, UNESCO, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and numerous academic studies.
– In the case of UNESCO, a major campaign in 2020 attacking the wider art market and accusing it of being responsible for funding terrorism, was exposed as utterly fraudulent. Despite being shown how the headline figure accompanying the campaign was also demonstrably bogus, UNESCO continues to promote it. Those responsible remain in post.
– Bogus data has been used to justify the introduction of important legislation, including the European Union’s 2019 import licensing regulations governing cultural property and AML proposals which have far-reaching implications for international trade, privacy rights and private property.