The international art market is a money laundry whose details are in the Panama Papers

[Read the post]


a secret, numbered offshore painting

Is that like a crypto-Turner or something?


That explains a lot!

It also raises an intriguing (probably very naive) possibility: could there conceivably ever be a “deflation” in the value of a Picasso? If the world’s leading modernist expert declared that, hey, y’know what, Pablo’s stuff was a bit shit really, could it - like fashion - rapidly plummet out of favour and leave the Nazi hoarders nursing losses…?


I think the point is that an expert would tell you that while they’re not shit, they probably shouldn’t be worth what they get, but that’s all utterly irrelevant now, because they’ve become a form of very large bill cash, and as such their value is defined by market agreement, and the market is in laundering, not art.


When the Panama Papers story broke, I was so excited to see these dirty dealing exposed to the light of day. Now I’m just depressed. Nobody really cares. I find cynicism very unattractive, but now I’m ready to just give up on global or national matters and just work on making my family and local community the best it can be.


Since seller is in need of cash, and buyer doesn’t really want to own that painting (it stays put), I trust a $200MM price of a painting also works to assign some other asset through a different transaction. Want to change title to that building, but don’t want to pay a big transfer tax? I’ll pay you the “FMV” for the painting which is held in a low tax jurisdiction, and you’ll sell me your building in a higher-tax jurisdiction for a song.

Of related interest; I just read this a few weeks ago after my dad left the magazine for me.

It wouldn’t matter much. Even if Picassos lost half their value, they can turn dirty money into clean, and that might be worth more. How much is a dollar worth after Interpol freezes it?

Color me… surprised?

don’t worry. Wikileaks, in an insane fit of jealousy and rage, has declared that the leak is a George Soros scheme to the goad the world into adopting his totalitarian vision of an " open society"

i think my dream job will always be international art thief.


Wouldn’t matter - in general, paintings are “worth” what they are simply because people have spent a lot of money on them in the past, not because of critical reception. Plus, with Picasso, most of the work is trading off of his name rather than the quality of the individual works (which were frequently sloppily dashed off and many of which were, frankly, not that great). When it’s being used as a means of laundering money, critical perception is doubly irrelevant compared to their ability to be highly commodifiable. Which, as mentioned, is why his work goes for so much money when the work of much better artists who were less prolific doesn’t.


According to the accounts of actual art thieves, its actually more difficult in fiction than in real life.

1 Like

They’re probably right.

It didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. All it really did was point out a bunch of examples. Do you expect everyone to rampage with torches and pitchforks? Nah, we’ve got lives and families we care about. Angrily posting on the internet is the limit of what most of us would do…well that and maybe try to vote in someone that cares.

Angrily posting on the internet is the limit of what most of us would
do…well that and maybe try to vote in someone that cares.

If there was more of that happening, I would feel better.

I don’t think rich people hiding assets is upsetting to most people. I thought it would be.

Except that this has been in the news for years now. Old enough that its been used as a plot device in a Daniel Silva book.

It ain’t that nobody cares. All the people with the power to immediately change the situation care very much.

The problem is that what they care about is ensuring that the situation continues.

Ain’t nothing gonna change until we figure out how to overthrow the global 0.1%. Democracy as it currently exists in most of the developed world won’t cut it, because Piketty, because Koch, because of the money controlling media and politics worldwide.

But it ain’t completely hopeless yet. See Iceland, see Bernie.

Occupy Wall Street didn’t fail, it just didn’t work as fast as we might have liked. The Occupy generation are still around, and they’ve learnt from the experience. Bernie and the Pirates are both essentially OWS campaigns.

It ain’t that nobody cares.

Well sure, some people care but no where near the 50% that it would take to make changes democratically.

Occupy Wall Street didn’t fail

It certainly did.

Hasn’t succeeded yet.

It takes more than a few months of camping in the street.