Works relating to the Greek war of independence will feature in Bonham’s sale, the location moved following a different political break up.
The annual Bonhams Greek art sale due to take place 19th May 2021, will move from London to Paris, with previews in Paris and Athens. An understandable change, for an auction with a predominantly European clientelle.
Whilst loss of the not insubstantial turnover at Bonhams may not impinge on GDP, this is symptomatic of wider issues which could. The art and antiques trade need to find solutions, to continue trading with European clients.
At a recent conference of their leading professional association, the chief executive illustrated a speech on the issue with an image of someone dragging a ball of red tape up a hill. Symptomatic of current trade feelings.
The Basis Of Exports
Since January 1st 2021, EU customers buying UK based art and antiques are required to pay import duties. They vary by European country but can be as high as 25%, often a sale killer, at least a loss of profit.
Where cultural goods of age, rarity, or high value would have required an export licence (Arts Council managed) they still do. Neither is this need generally set aside because the item is leaving the UK on a temporary basis.
Export licences apart, individual countries do have set procedures for temporary entry of certain works of art. They are not however guaranteed to remove all duties, temporary admission procedure can also be time consuming and involve cost.
An established alternative for temporary export is to use an ATA carnet. The most rational and flexible option in a number of cases.
ATA Carnet Specifics
Fine art can just be thought of as paintings, although we could include sculpture, furniture, rare books, manuscripts, silver, far more. An ATA carnet can be used for almost any category, or a combination.
Other items, such as exhibition fittings, or equipment can be included on the carnet. There are odd regulations for unusual items but in principle, once in the EU, fine art can be transported across EU borders without customs restrictions.
A carnet is valid for 12 months and able to be reused during that time, as often as you wish. ATA carnets are also a well recognised system, which customs officers deal with every day. The journey is likely to be hassle free.
Different options are being tried, from virtual marketplaces, to turning Cromwell Place Galleries into a customs free zone. We applaud everyone’s wish to get round the issues but in most cases, they will need to be dealt with traditionally.
Changes to the position on permanent exports can only be based on political will but for temporary exports to the EU and beyond, ATA carnets are an answer. There is a cost but this can be spread across a number of items.
The prime rule is that your intention is for your fine art, or equipment to return to the UK. For advice on specific trips, please talk to our support team, who will help to ensure an ATA carnet is the right choice for you.