Defeating terrorism and saving art: fighting the same battle

With a Foreword by Pierre Buhler

This working paper is also available in French.

The antiques market draws increasing attention both in Europe and in the United States[1] following both the unprecedented attacks on cultural landmarks around the world, and ISIS’s institutionalisation of “blood antiquities’’ looting (leading some to raise concerns of a“mass destruction market”[2]).

More generally, there are also questions about the art market’s global functioning, specifically around its regulation and its weak compliance culture. Once combined, these elements pose explicit risks: geopolitic and security risk (terrorism financing, organized crime[3], etc.); diplomatic[4] and cultural risk (identity destruction, sale of stolen objects); various economic risks stemming from irrational, subjective and variable prices (money laundering, fraud, tax evasion[5]), and finally the systemic risk for buyers[6] as fakes flood the market. 

Similarly to “blood diamonds”, only a global solution can solve such a global issue already exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis (as demonstrated by the information from source countries[7] or online sales[8]). The European Union and the United States, which both represent a tremendous share of the global market, are making significant progress. Beyond law enforcement, the question of a global and adapted regulation remains unanswered.




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