European Commission Takes Aim at Antiquities Dealers

Posted on July 3, 2012


In an effort to curb money laundering, the European Commission has proposed a solution that is apt to miss the mark and likely to hurt small antique dealers in the process.

Currently, galleries and auction houses must register as “high-value dealers” if they accept cash transactions totaling €15,000 or more. Registration as a high-volume dealer essentially requires the gallery to comport with stricter guidelines when buyers choose to pay in cash.  The Commission recently recommended lowering this threshold amount, which would result in more galleries required to register as “high-value dealers.”

Problem is, it won’t work. Art law specialist Pierre Valentin explains that a lower threshold will not harm money launderers. Moreover, it will harm small antique dealers. “It is the smaller dealers in antiques and lower-end fine art who accept cash: and they’re the ones suffering most in this economic climate” explains Valentin.

So what are these stricter procedures? For starters, they may include stricter guidelines for verifying the identity of buyers such as checking passports and utility bills.

Source: Money-laundering rules mean more work for dealers