The Art Business Conference in London is a key event in the international art calendar, tackling current and emerging issues facing the art market, often with a practical edge such as the session this year which focused on future changes in legislation relating to money laundering and the involving due diligence and risk reduction requirements for galleries, dealers and auction houses to perform on their buyers. Opened by chair Georgina Adam, with a Keynote speech by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism Michael Ellis.
An overarching theme which came up several times across multiple panel sessions this year and in previous years, is the question of self regulation and introducing industry standards. This year it was brought up by both the Michael Ellis and the session on ‘Provenance and the blockchain: issues and future visions’ was moderated by Tom Flynn that perhaps we should introduce an industry standard in minimum due diligence documentation requirements. This could help reduce unfortunate scandals and the inevitable subsequent bad press that follows, which has increased alarmingly in recent years and is after all, bad for business and health of the market in general. This type of self regulation would no doubt encourage the recent and growing number of investors and funds as well as lending activity that has entered the market. Of course, investors and financial institutions are accustomed to highly regulated industries and their associated rigorous due diligence and so have understandable concerns when dealing with the art market.
Charles Ede brought up a concern over the antiquities sector and how they could possibly conform to such standards. Can be challenging to provide provenance for the last hundred years, let alone the last thousand. This is of course a legitimate concern that should be taken into consideration, but should not in my opinion hinder progress towards an effort to introduce such standards.
I sat next to Authentication in Art conference organiser Oliver Spapens and we discussed the need to progress this idea of industry standards in due diligence. We decided to form a working group of key players in the industry to tackle this. We have since put together a shortlist, and will be making further announcements in due course. To register interest in hearing more about this as things progress or give sage advice please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.