Katie L. Steiner,
Dealing with Laundering in the Swiss Art Market: New Legislation and its Threat to Honest Traders,
49 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/jil/vol49/iss1/21
On January 1, 2016, new regulations took effect in Switzerland that impact the country's art market. The laws aim to close channels for laundering money and illicit antiquities within the art trade. Because the art market's opacity provides attractive conditions for launderers, Switzerland's new regulations introduce greater transparency in transactions for high-value works of art and in duty-free art-storage facilities, such as the Geneva freeport. The Geneva warehouse serves an international clientele of art collectors, who have traditionally stored works of art in the facility anonymously and indefinitely, without adverse tax consequences. The freeport provides essential services for honest collectors who wish to protect their holdings secretly and securely. In addition, the freeports offer an ideal climate for an emerging class of art investors, who buy and store works until they appreciate in value. By requiring greater transparency within the Swiss art market in an effort to curb illicit activity, the new regulations threaten to undermine the conditions that support the interests of legitimate art traders. Because Switzerland introduced its regulations unilaterally, Swiss art traders should advocate for self-regulation within the international art market in order to level the competitive playing field and preserve the conditions of confidentiality that honest traders depend on.