Strict New German Art Market Controls Ratified By Bundesrat

The German Bundesrat has brought in a new law to control the country’s growing art market. Culture minister Monika Grütters has been busy working on new policies since she took office in 2013. Last month the German parliament was pleased to announce that it has been ratified. The law requires government approval for artworks valued at more than €150,000 and more than 50 years of age to be sold outside of the E.U. Many of Germany’s collectors and art dealers are unhappy with the changes. 

The new changes include: Under the requirements of the new legislation, artworks moved from Germany to other countries within the European Union will require an export license if they are valued above €300,000 and are over 75 years old. The legislation is stricter when it comes to works heading farther afield: Pieces above €150,000 and over 50 years of age will need a license before leaving the EU. New agencies will be set up in Germany’s 16 regions to determine if the works are of national significance. Should that determination be made, the works will be barred from export.

As a concession to successful artists like Georg Baselitz and Gerhard Richter, who both threatened to pull their work from German museums in protest when a draft of the bill was announced last year, the final law allows artists to opt out of these export license requirements.

The final law is the result of what Grütters called a “sterile and rocky” history. When originally proposed last year, the export requirements were even stricter, with all cultural objects valued above €150,000 to receive an export license before leaving the country, regardless of destination. The revised figures—along with the ability of living artists to opt out—haven’t mollified critique of the law by those in the German art market who see it is as a major barrier to commerce.

“This new law is yet another sign of the problematic direction in which the German art market is headed,” prominent Berlin gallerist Johann König told Artsy on Monday. König suggests the climate in Germany has become out of touch with the realities of those helping to promote culture in the country through their business and the way in which the art market has evolved.

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