Art dealers and collectors are anticipating extra costs and delays from a no-deal Brexit.
Pro-Brexit demonstrators rally near the Houses of Parliament in London in June 2016. Photo by Garry Knight, via Wikimedia Commons.
With the U.K.’s October 31st departure date from the European Union fast approaching, art dealers and collectors are anticipating new tax situations and slowdowns at ports that would come with a no-deal Brexit. In a no-deal scenario, all agreements between the U.K. and other European Union member states would end overnight with no replacement measures or provisions in place. The free movement of goods between the U.K. and EU would likely come to a grinding halt, and new value-added tax (VAT) regimes would be imposed on artworks being imported to Europe from the U.K. Some are getting all their art into or out of the U.K. months early, while others are advising buyers and sellers to get any sales made during Frieze London in early October finalized as quickly as possible.
Art logistics companies are anticipating exceptionally busy months ahead. Fritz Dietl, the president of Dietl International, an art shipper, told the Financial Times:
Before, everyone assumed this was going to be worked out. Now there’s a lot more concern. [. . .] I think September will become really busy in terms of trucking capacity to get art out of the U.K.
To avoid having works held up in ports, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (which has locations in London, Paris, and Salzburg) is bringing all the art for its November, December, and January exhibitions into the U.K. early, and planning to ship works from its October exhibition in London back to mainland Europe as soon as the show comes down.
Art exports from the U.K. already spiked in 2018 amid concerns over Brexit’s effects on imports and exports, according to a report released in May. Some £240 million ($311.8 million) worth of art, antiquities, and other collectibles were exported from the U.K. to mainland Europe in 2018, a rise of 64 percent over 2017. London is currently Europe’s art market capital, matched only by New York and Hong Kong among global hub cities.