A Call for more art market diligence

Gerald Fitzgerald argues that we need to increase the level of due diligence in the art market:

I propose a levy of 1% or less on the sale or auction of any artwork above a certain value—say, $5,000—earmarked fully for the creation and support of a Center for Provenance Research. Questions of inadequate provenance would be submitted to CPR review prior to further sale. This independent, nonprofit research center would apply acknowledged standards using instant accessibility to an electronic database uniting all relevant sources. A staggering, global collection is housed at the Family Library in Salt Lake City, UT, which is now digitizing genealogical records in more than 45 countries. In March 2014, the Vatican announced that it will begin to digitize 1.5 million pages of its manuscript collection of more than 41 million pages, a project it has outsourced to the Japanese technology group NTT Data. Other fields—medicine, music, and so on—are being accessed instantly, electronically; every major museum has its libraries being digitized.

No one has done so for provenance research. Overseen by a board of directors drawn internationally from museums, auction houses, dealers, and collectors, the CPR could be a recognized standard for due diligence now missing entirely. I estimate that it would take about 10 years to devise, fund, and implement the CPR. The levy ought to begin immediately following market commitment to the project, allowing funds to accrue throughout the planning and development stages. The need for a global CPR is underscored by the major auction houses continuing expansion into emerging markets, such as those of China and India.

I agree that diligence needs to be increased, and this seems like a very good idea to get it started.

Gerald Fitzgerald, Opinion: Give Us CPR, Art Papers (Jun. 2014), http://www.artpapers.org/feature_articles/feature3_2014_0506.html.

1 thought on “A Call for more art market diligence”

  1. The principle is correct: tax the trade in order to monitor and police it. That’s what I’ve been arguing for since at least 2009. Monitoring and policing, of course, have to go far, far beyond provenance research where antiquities are concerned.

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