As a ‘No Deal’ Brexit Looms, the Art World Prepares for the Fallout
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Roads gridlocked with trucks. Empty supermarket shelves. An economy thrown into paralysis.
The images seem extreme, but as the possibility looms that Britain might leave the European Union on March 29 without an agreement, businesses are preparing for the worst. The art trade is one of them.
Dealers, auctioneers, artists and their supporting services are all trying to weigh up the challenges of the withdrawal, known as Brexit, including the tariffs to be paid and saved, and the opportunities lost and gained.
“If there is no deal, it means all shipments between Britain and the E.U. will be subject to customs clearance,” said Victor Khureya, executive operations director at Gander & White, a specialist fine-art shipping company, based in London.
The London-based artist Eva Rothschild is representing Ireland at this year’s Venice Biennale. Her British gallery, Modern Art, will ship her works to Italy well ahead of the leave date of March 29. “Once Brexit has happened, there will be no guarantee that the export of artworks will not be subject to intense chaos and inevitable delays,” said Stuart Shave, the gallery’s director.
Tornabuoni Art, a high-end dealership with galleries in six locations in Britain, France and Italy, now plans to close its current London exhibition of 20th-century abstracts by Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana on March 9, three weeks earlier than scheduled.
The 40 works in the show have a value of about 70 million euros, or $79 million, which would attract a tax bill of €7 million if shipped back to Italy after Britain drops out of the European Union’s free trade zone, because Italy levies 10 percent on artworks imported from outside the bloc.
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