Art gallerists in Mexico are blaming slow business on an anti–money laundering law targeting drug lords, reports the Washington Post. Among them, dealer Guillermo Zajarias described the Mexican art market as “totally frozen,” claiming that sales at his gallery in Lomas de Chapultepec have fallen by 30% since the law passed in 2012. “This is fiscal terrorism, and it is not fair,” he said. His sentiments were echoed by several other gallerists.
The legislation they oppose is meant to target the informal economy in which drug lords easily empty their bulging pockets. Purchases of luxury items greater than $15,510 can no longer be completed in cash. That includes things like jewelry, yachts, armored vehicles, and — yes — artwork. Large sales must also be reported to the Mexican Ministry of Finance.
But some gallerists think art’s inclusion among such flashy items is unfair. Gallery owner Oscar Román pointed to drug houses shown on TV after their occupants have been arrested. “[They] have posters on the wall. You don’t see a single piece of art,” he said.
Whether or not narcos appreciate art may be beside the point. Criminals around the world have repeatedly found a safe haven in the unregulated art market, where million-dollar transactions are everyday affairs. In Brazil, for example, banker Edemar Cid Ferreira turned his illegal billions into a 12,000-piece-strong art collection. In Hong Kong, the wealthy are frequently known to purchase artworks at inflated prices outside the country and have the balance deposited quietly into an offshore account. Speaking to Periódico AM about Mexico’s law, art dealer Luis García Jasso even admitted that the art trade is where money laundering can most easily occur.
Why wouldn’t the cartels take advantage of it? They’re already active in the real estate, food, and fashion industries. According to the International Business Times, the Mexican Ministry of Finance estimates criminals launder $10 billion every year, while the US-based independent consultancy Strafor believes the true number could be up to $39 billion. The anti–money laundering law is one of the Mexican government’s first attempts to attack the cartel’s finances since it declared war in December 2006. Since then, more than 70,000 people have been killed. Amid such high stakes, should the art market really get a pass?
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Lee Lozano, Cindy Sherman, Tokuko Ushioda, Anas Albraehe, and more.
The art establishment was never quite sure what to do with a self-taught artist like Basquiat, who owed as much to bebop and William S. Burroughs’s cut-up technique as he did to African influences.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Kadish’s fossil-like heads, forms, and figures remind us that every civilization, including our own, eventually collapses.
In every role she held, Vendryes advocated for marginalized people and celebrated the cultural contributions of the Black and queer communities.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Stanton, who died of AIDS complications in 1984, left behind an engaging body of work, a moving tribute to a bygone generation of creative minds.
Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis and Danny Boyle’s miniseries Pistol are both overly fixated on the influence their respective musicians’ managers had on them.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
In the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, arts workers and reproductive rights organizations are collaborating on educational resources for accessing safe procedures.
The couple launched the Futureverse Foundation, a grantmaking organization that aims to “help keep the metaverse widely accessible.”
The museum’s “pay-what-you-wish” policy will remain in place for New York State residents and tri-state students, but out-of-state adults will pay $5 extra.