Art Law Report

Responsible Art Market Initiative (New York) to Hold Webinar Series on Money Laundering and Corporate Transparency

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 21, 2020 at 4:09 PM
Longtime readers of the Art Law Report will know of the remarkable success over the last several years of the Responsible Art Market Initiative in Geneva. RAM began initially in connection with a collaboration by the Art Law Centre at the University of Geneva and the Art Law Foundation (Fondation pour le droit de d’art), also in Geneva. RAM has held annual events in Geneva at artgeneve for several years. Indeed, the RAM event this past January was one of the last times I was able to visit Europe before the world shut down.
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Topics: sanctions, Pryor Cashman LLP, Pippa Loengard, Irina Tarsis, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Suzanne Gyorgy, Megan Noh, Center for Art Law, RAM, Responsible Art Market initiative, Money laundering, CitiBank, Birgit Kurtz, Nanne Dekking, Artory, Lockton Companies, Andrew Schoelkopf, Elaine Wood, Charles River Associates, Jill Arnold Bull

U.S. Senate Report Takes a Swing at Money Laundering in the Art Market But Strikes Out on Substance

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 12, 2020 at 2:41 PM

A recent report by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (headlined by Chairman Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Ranking Member Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware) has drawn widespread attention for its damning statements about the international art market. Focusing on purchases of art from major auction houses by Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, two Russian nationals described as “oligarchs” by the report, the Subcommittee makes a series of pronouncements about the supposed prevalence of money laundering in the art market, and the need for regulation to address this perceived problem. Yet upon closer read, the report is a recycling of clichés about the art market, a detailed description about the considerable diligence by the auction houses far beyond what any even theoretical regulation would require (thus begging the question of what lesser regulation would accomplish), and no discussion or empathy at all for the vast majority of small art businesses that could not possibly comply with such regulation and stay in business, let alone actually combat money laundering. In other words, in concluding that two men laundered money, the Senate committee deduces that the practice is rampant. This hardly follows as a matter of logic. Far from supporting the case for sweeping financial regulation of the art market, the report unintentionally makes the opposite point.

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Topics: OFAC, Vladimir Putin, Uniform Commercial Code, House of Representatives, New York Times, Responsible Art Market initiative, Money laundering, FinCEN, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Boris Rotenberg, oligarch, shell companies, suspicious activity reports, Banking Secrecy Act, Politically Exposed Persons, Arkady Rotenberg, Treasury, ultimate beneficial owner, UBO, Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, Tom Carper, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Rob Portman

Building a Responsible Art Market in New York May 23, 2019

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 29, 2019 at 5:48 PM

As promised, here are the details and registration information for the Responsible Art Market initiative's inaugural US event on May 23, 2019 at Columbia University.  The preliminary program is below (some sponsors still pending), sign up today today to attend (free)! 

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Topics: Jane Levine, Switzerland, Appraisers Association of America, Suzanne Gyorgy, Sotheby's, Megan Noh, ARTnews, Art Law Centre, University of Geneva, Responsible Art Market initiative, Justine Ferland, CitiBank, PAIAM, Sarah Douglas, Birgit Kurtz, Gibbons P.C., Rebecca Fine, Athena Art Finance Corp., Pryor Cashman, Linda Selvin, Jennifer Mass, Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC

Event: A Responsible Art Market in Practice, February 1, 2019 in Geneva

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 9, 2019 at 11:32 AM

Readers of the Art Law Report know that for several years running now, I have enjoyed events in Geneva organized by the Art Law Foundation and the Responsible Art Market Initiative in January/February.  I am happy to report that this year is no exception.  RAM is presenting its latest event “A Responsible Art Market in Practice,” to be held on Friday February 1, 2019 at the Palexpo in the venue of the artgenève fair.  After joining the RAM Taskforce and contributing to its Toolkit and country guide for the US, I am pleased to be presenting one of the case studies, in between a roster of distinguished speakers and experts.  I hope to see you there! 

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Topics: Art Law Foundation, The Art Newspaper, Geneva, artgenève, Sandrine Giroud, Lalive, Irina Tarsis, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Suzanne Gyorgy, Georgina Adam, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Art Law Centre, Mathilde Heaton, Jean-Bernard Schmid, Responsible Art Market initiative, Phillips, Financial Times, Palexpo, Justine Ferland, Carine Decroi, Artcurial, Philippe Davet, CitiBank, Aude Lemogne, Ochsner & associés, Roland Foord, Stephenson Harwood, Association Marché d’Art Suisse, Blondeau & Cie, Andreas Ritter

Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives Would Impose Money Laundering Reporting Requirements on Art Dealers

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 24, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Casting aspersions about the art market is a popular pastime.  And no doubt there is much about the commercial art world that invites this criticism, not least a tendency towards secrecy (or discretion, depending whom you ask).  Sometimes these criticisms lean into suggestions of rampant criminality or money laundering, for which there is actually scant support. That is to say, there is a common suggestion that the lack of a single regulatory scheme over the art market (which is not to say it is unregulated, another misconception) is evidence of participation by dealers or collectors in illicit activity. In fact, as we have written before, the far greater risk is of being used by bad actors trying to launder money through art transactions.  For this and other reasons, we were proud to assist in drafting the Responsible Art Market initiative U.S. country guide and the more recent toolkit that was launched in January.

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Topics: OFAC, Christie's Inc., Responsible Art Market initiative, Money laundering, AML Program, Know your customer, H.R. 5886, Luke Messer, Office of Foreign Asset Control, Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Protection, KYC

Recap and Analysis: Responsible Art Market Initiative Launched in Geneva

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 1, 2017 at 9:35 AM

I was pleased to attend last week in Geneva “Building an Art Market for the Future—Guidelines for Countering Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Threats” hosted by the Fondation pour le Droit d’Art (Art Law Foundation) and the Art Law Centre of the University of Geneva.  The conference was the official launch of the Responsible Art Market initiative, and offered valuable, market-focused discussion about the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing in the art market.  Refreshingly, the day’s panel discussions focused on best practices and goals, rather than the oft-heard lamentations about problems with the art market.  The implicit point that came through was a powerful one: as both private sellers and law enforcement speakers explained, art dealers are not engaged in large-scale shadowy financial dealings.  But art dealers and buyers are at serious risk of being used by criminals engaged in money laundering, which can have serious consequences.  Because willful blindness is no defense, the conference and the initiative provided valuable practical advice.

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Topics: Pierre Gabus, Anne Laure Bandle, Art Dealers Association of Switzerland, Art Law Foundation, Geneva, Sandrine Giroud, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Art Law Centre, University of Geneva, AML, Terrorist financing, Sylvia Furrer Hoffmann, Ricardo Sansoletti, Ursula Cassani, Simon Studer, Mathilde Heaton, Fondation pour le Droit d’Art, Jean-Bernard Schmid, Rakhi Talwar, Ralph Wyss, Responsible Art Market initiative, Money laundering, Stiftung Kunsthalle, Bern, Deloitte

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About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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