Despite the present circumstances, there is still a global demand for works of art. Auction houses have jumped on the Zoom bandwagon and are now offering virtual auctions. Christie’s have scheduled four times as many online sales between early May and June as they did in the same period in 2019 and Sotheby’s is kicking off its June live-streamed sale with a Francis Bacon triptych inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus that’s estimated to sell for over $60 million.
Some wealthy art collectors have also been raising cash during the current crisis by using their art assets as collateral.
Gibraltar is an attractive destination for the purchase and sale of high-value art. Private importations of works of art and collector’s pieces of value over £1,000 only attract a 3% rate of import duty and there is no capital gains tax, stamp duty or VAT on goods or services in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar has already shown that it is willing and able to accommodate alternative investment. Like art, high-value wine is also an investible asset; Gibraltar approved the construction of a state-of-the-art wine vault located deep within the caverns of the Rock of Gibraltar. There is also a thriving philatelic marketplace in Gibraltar.
In addition to its fiscal advantages, Gibraltar is English-speaking, well-connected to London (a major art capital), and also accustomed to the use of trusts and foundations that high-net-worth individuals might seek to use to structure their assets.
The message being sent by Sotheby’s seems clear: even though the supply chain for auctions and deliveries may have been slowed by the pandemic, they’re still counting on unswerving desire for quality from collectors to carry them through.