Art exports from Britain reach record high

Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:38am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - The value of art exports from Britain reached a record high last year as buyers from around the world took advantage of London's thriving art scene and light-touch export regulations, according to a study on Monday.

The study, by Thomson Reuters legal business, said art works worth 11.3 billion pounds ($17.4 billion) were exported from Britain in the year to April 2014, up 7.6 percent from the previous year, with the majority traded in London.

"London remains a key market with buyers from across the globe attracted by its dense network of galleries, collectors and artists, as well as its pragmatic export regime," the study quoted Massimo Sterpi, co-editor of "The Art Collecting Legal Handbook", published by Thomson Reuters, as saying.

The growing value of art exports suggests that the Artist’s Resale Right, which grants artists or their heirs a share of up to 4 percent in the resale of work has not impacted British sales as much as had been feared, the study said.

The Art Resale Right was first introduced in 2006 and since January 2012 has applied to qualifying works by artists who have been dead for less than 70 years.

"There was some concern in London that the new law would encourage sellers to use rival markets where no such resale right applies," the study quoted handbook co-editor Bruno Boesch as saying.

"However, sales prices achieved in London are normally so high that there is little incentive to sell in other markets - in Paris, for example," he added.

Britain denied export licences to art worth just 13.9 million pounds last year, less than 1 percent of the value of exports requiring legal referral, the study noted.

(Reporting by Sam Wilkin; Editing by Alison Williams)