British art exports reach post-credit crunch high

The global economic outlook since 2008 has remained in a relative state of disarray and many analysts forecast that the severity of this most unfortunate malaise would continue for the foreseeable future.
However, as the five year anniversary of the credit crunch nears, the outlook, while not suggestive of a return to boom times, is decidedly rosier. This is certainly the case in the UK, which only a few months ago avoided a trip dip recession.
Sajid Javid, the economy secretary to the Treasury, recently said that the “economy has moved out of intensive care and into recovery” and that “momentum had returned”.
Some critics would argue that he embellishes, but regardless, figures do suggest that progress is being made and though the road ahead to full-blown recovery is a long one with many barriers, the dark days are perhaps behind us.
Standing alone throughout this period has been the art world. It suffered in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, but soon rebounded. Since then it has maintained a high level of success, liquidity and vibrancy.
The industry has been one of the UK’s most robust, as new data compiled by Sweet & Maxwell, a legal information provider owned by Thomson Reuters, has shown.
The worth of art exports from Britain is at its highest in over half a decade, with the value of art and cultural objects heading out of the country coming in at just under £2 billion in the year to May 2012. That represents a massive 32 per cent rise.
What makes this even more impressive is the fact that the increase occurred against the backdrop of new rules that provide artists or their heirs with an entitlement of up to four per cent of an original work of art’s resale price.
“Many art experts and dealers were concerned that London’s position in the art world could suffer compared to New York or Hong Kong which haven’t introduced any such levy on the resale of modern and contemporary art,” said Massimo Sterpi, co-editor of The Art Collecting Legal Handbook.
The Artist’s Resale Rights Directive has been in effect since 2012. Its objective, the European Union states, is to ultimately deliver greater protection to authors of a work of art and “eliminate the distortion in the conditions for competition currently existing within the single market for contemporary art”.
Consequently, regardless of where the work is sold in the EU, the benefit of this right is afforded to artists and their successors. For a limited period of time, royalties are generated every time one of their works is resold, irrespective of whether it is done through a gallery, auction house or art dealer.
“Art is an increasingly important trophy asset for international high-net-worth-individuals and some argue that the concept of art as an investment received a big push from the credit crunch – which saw the value of many other assets slump,” said Bruno Boesch, another co-editor of The Art Collecting Legal Handbook.
Cadogan Tate has extensive experience in shipping fine art from the UK to all over the world.