How the single market got in the way of our art market

The UK art market is one of the big three in the world, coming second after New York and a little ahead of Hong Kong/Shanghai. 98% of the world’s expensive paintings are sold through one of these three markets.These 3 account for 81% of total world art market turnover between them.

Only 3% of the UK’s art exports go to the rest of the EU. Imports from there account for 16% of the total. The EU has imposed two extra costs on the London market not charged to clients of New York or China. One is a VAT on imports. The other is the living artists levy on a re sale.

In typical EU fashion they have invented rules and taxes that make an EU based market less attractive. London has lost some market share to New York and China as a result. It has not helped continental centres. The UK has 21% of the global overall market, and 62% of the European market.

Once we have left the EU the UK could cut the costs imposed. The VAT has cost us some business, but collects very little tax as a result.

It would be good to hear more from other media about the opportunities for us to do better out of the EU in sectors we are good at or have a natural advantage in. I have talked about fishing before, and agriculture is another obvious one. The Art market is an excellent example of something we are good at, something which generates well paid jobs with a high level of training and interest. Out of the EU we can help it grow faster.

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  1. Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Well now we know what all the people who used to make motor cars can do then. Art.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Bit silly because more cars are made in the UK now than ever before.
      Careers in the automotive industry and associated sub contractors are growing fast to record levels.
      Well paid secure jobs in a profitable sector of the economy.
      Jaguar Land Rover investing over a billion in new plant equipment and new vehicles.
      But you carry on with your sneering.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink


      In our local town Jaguar Land Rover have just built an enormous showroom which is separate to the rest of the showroom for Volvo etc because they cannot keep up with demand or the interest being shown by the public. Waiting lists for new cars are getting longer. Stop being so pessimistic and be glad that our car industry is doing well.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Have we forgotten how many factories got outsourced to the EU before Brexit ?

      • Posted July 20, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Pity Newmania didn’t campaign for British workers before – then Brexit might not have happened. The EU didn’t steal his job though, did it !

    • Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      The point John is making is that EU is just a tax swallowing introvert organisation. By leaving we can decide which areas of the economy to support through tax breaks etc.

  2. Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    The U.K. Art Market employs 41,000 people. Car manufacturing well over a million.

    You can’t build a modern economy around Sotheby’s.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Dear Clover–Eh?–Who said you could??–Every bit helps though

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Its just an example of a profitable niche sector where the UK has considerable expertise yet the EU steps in to restrict it and spoil its future.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      What of all the secondary trades and businesses associated with the art sector? Hotels, restaurants, taxis, software developers, websites, historians, writers, reviews, event managers, restorers, chemists, accountants, insurance brokers etc etc.

      A few specialisations like car manufacturing or banking are no good. We need a diverse economy to enable a range of sustainable commerce and employment and to spark new products and businesses.

  3. Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I do not believe that our government will do anything like that which our kind host suggests. Instead it will do what it has done in the recent past. It will continue to borrow more money and will continue to support things like HS2. So in essence, more money down the drain. Remember, this is a government that thought nothing of taxing its own supporters even in a GE. So what chance will we get post BREXIT ? They will just take the money and spend it on trying to get more votes.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Many thanks for finally taking my comment from the other day out of moderation. Just in time for the debate to have moved on.

      Oh. And you edited out my quip about being moderated. How kind.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and they are still going down the let’s mug the self employed route with the very foolish (let create more parasitic jobs for lawyers and distract people from producing) Taylor report.

      We still do not have the promised £1M IHT threshold each, landlords (and thus tenants) are taxed on profits they have not even made, 15% turnover taxes on houses, insurance tax up to 12% all sorts of other back door taxes. Yet they can still piss money away on HS2, Hinkley C, corrupt overseas aid, wind subsidies, PV subsidies, pointless smart meters, electric car subsidies and loads of bureaucrats doing lttle of any use (often worse) yet paid 40% more than the productive sector.

      Look at the absurd pay levels of all those totally untalented and tedious lefties at the BBC as published today.

      • Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        I do not care what people get paid. What I care about is being forced to pay their wages irrespective of whether I watch their ‘talent’ or not !

      • Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        LL. Yes, and because of the pay gender difference just watch the wages bill go up as they pay the women more. We won’t see men’s pay coming down.

        Why don’t they sack the lot of them and get fresh blood in on lower wage? I am fed up seeing Norton, Lineker, Claire Balding and the likes on too many programmes.

  4. Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Guarantee this topic will not be seen on any BBC programme.

  5. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Indeed a very stupid thing to have done. Shooting the economy in the foot, but that after all is largely what the EU does.

    Not however quite as damaging as Hammond & Osborne’s absurd (up to) 15% turnover tax on property.

  6. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    “The EEA Agreement does not cover the following EU policies: common agriculture and fisheries policies (although the EEA Agreement contains provisions on trade in agricultural and fish products); customs union; common trade policy; common foreign and security policy; justice and home affairs (the EEA EFTA States are however part of the Schengen area); direct and indirect taxation; or economic and monetary union.
    “All the EFTA States are members of the WTO and attach the highest priority to a well-functioning global trade system. In EFTA’s view the multilateral and bilateral approaches are mutually supportive.
    “The EEA Agreement contains provisions for input from the EFTA side before new legislation is adopted. Input can take the form of participation of EFTA experts in EC committees or the submission of EFTA comments and the adoption of resolutions responding to Commission initiatives.”
    As a half way house to prevent the cliff edge on midnight 29=30th March 2019. please tell me why this option is not being considered very seriously.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Mike, I’m sure it is being considered, but would you bring it forward at this stage of negotiation with the EU…probably best not.

      Both sides are playing “hard ball” at the moment, as expected, lets see who blinks first.

      • Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        The EU can afford to walk away as no one is going to vote them out.

        • Posted July 20, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          We shall see !!!

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      You seem to have missed out that the EEA Agreement also enjoys the imposition of the EU legislation on four freedoms – persons, capital, goods and services.

  7. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    The idea of living artists getting a levy on any re sale is totally absurd anyway. If an artist sells a work of art they have sold it and that should be the end of any income from it. Unless of course the sale agreement specifically provided for this – which it clearly could do should both parties agreed. Governments endlessly interferring in free contracts is hugely damaging to the economy.

    What next architects and builders getting a cut every time a house is sold or car designers everytime one of their car designs changes hands. Why should some get more if their art changes hands a lot while other artists get nothing as it went to a museum or similar and never gets sold again.

    Totally absurd is rather an EU speciallity. Just consider CAP, the common input tarif, the old food mountains, the throwing back good but fish dead fish, the “renewables” insanity, VAT, the ERM, the EURO, the one size fits all approach, having two EU parliaments and moving back and forth, their special low tax rules just for their own employees, the tax free “expenses” paid without any expense being neaded and almost everything else they have done.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      It is basically a law saying they cannot fully sell something they own even if they want to.

    • Posted July 20, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      The artist also retains the copyright to that work. For example I’m looking at a painting I bought years ago in a sale before the levy came in. I’ve had requests for the picture to be published by the copyright to it belongs to the artist who is long dead, but not 70+ years dead and in anycase his estate retains those rights beyond the 70 years. It is basically silly. I also imported some silver forks from Australia made in 1773 but I had to pay VAT on them !!

  8. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    It was designed an executed with the aim of destroying our art market.

    Free enterprise must be the guiding principle in all policies when we get out of the EU.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      “Free enterprise must be the guiding principle in all policies when we get out of the EU.”

      Well we will not get this from lefty dope May will we? She even wants workers forced on to company boards, endless tax increases, more vast borrowing, to hit the self employed and to force gender pay reporting. Her side kick Hammond and lefty lefty interventionist dope Mathew Taylor are worse still.

  9. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Out of the EU we could also develop a sensible, cheap and reliable energy policy but unfortunately T May is a climate alarmist (believer) who clearly wants to continue to export our energy intensive jobs overseas. (Without even any net saving on world CO2 output).

    We could also take back control of fire regulations and get some more sensible ones without all the dangerous and expensive greencrap.

  10. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Outside the EU we could also cancel the bonkers HS2 project and just give every family a £5000 tax rebate instead.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      We can cancel HS2 inside the EU, but MPs appear not to have the collective nous to force the government to do so. Unfortunately – it would solve a lot of problems.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink


      The longer they delay the more expensive it will be to cancel.

      It is being reported that Government reports are being held up on the true cost of this project, whilst in the meantime ever more contracts are being agreed.

      Remember the Aircraft Carrier fiasco where it was more expensive to cancel than to build, HS2 is going the same way.


    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Well done, LL, for the timely resurrection of this article which reminds everyone of the EU dimension behind HS2, something that all our politicians seem to have been afraid of revealing/acknowledging. Surely this would have been ideal material/ammunition for the Brexiteer MPs?

  11. Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    There are people in the world actively engaged in this type of work buying and selling art and good luck to them, and then there are the very rich types who invest, hoard and speculate and good luck to them too, but none of this has little to do with the ordinary man trying to make a living, supporting his family and generally getting by so i don’t know why it has been brought up as a subject for discussion. We might say London is full of money changers, which it is, or there is a hamburger joint on every street corner which their is. Another topic could be the amount of shut down empty business premises on the high streets throughout the land and discuss why? and is this all to do with the EU as well?

    Out of the EU the art business will carry on as before it is a global thing and a little tax here or there is not going to matter much to these rich types.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Taxes on shops are far too high so they cannot compete with internet.

  12. Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Do you have a view on the Euratom issue?

  13. Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Much of what the EU does is intended to frustrate Britain and assist the rest of the EU.
    Slapping punitive taxes on sugar beet because cane is used elsewhere in Europe is one example.
    Denying aid to a UK propeller manufacturer but waving through aid to a German company.

    The EU was determined to bankrupt Britain and turn us into a vassal state.
    Thank God we’re going.
    I hope todays Mail is correct that we are going to refuse to commit to any divorce bill until a comprehensive trade deal is reached. Even then it should be a one off fraction of what they’re demanding.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      In divorse is it not usually the richer party that pays over to the poorer one?

      Or the one with more export trade at risk?

  14. Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    VAT was originally a tax imposed on us by the Common Market. Now we are leaving the EU why is it not going to be eliminated?
    I’ll answer myself- Because any tax, once invented, will never be got rid of by any politician, they are far too greedy.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Surely, it will be incorporated into our law (using the EU Leaving bill, because there is so much to bring over) and then, like all our laws, will be available to be changed through Parliament.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Indeed income tax was a “temporary” tax when introduced.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      All taxes are addictive drugs to those who think they are in charge, so don’t expect them to be abolished any time soon 🙁

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Correct !

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Andy. VAT replaced Purchase Tax when we joined the Common Market to bring us into line with them.

  15. Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    No doubt, those with experience can point to many other markets where we would be better off out of the EU. It is an inward looking protectionist market place which will doom itself to failure given time.

  16. Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    It is a pity that facts such as these that you place on your blog are not more widely and energetically espoused by others in your party. Listening continuously to the emotive expressions of those who wish to remain within all or even part of the protection racket that is the EU can be very depressing at times.

  17. Posted July 19, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    To put things in perspective: TBAMF in 2014, 42,000 jobs, £9bn sales to mainly foreign buyers as London is acting mainly as an intermediary.
    An essential part of the economy? Relevant to the average Brit?

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Every little helps.

  18. Posted July 19, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The digital services market is another obvious one. The EU’s insane vat rules on digital services ( vat moss) whilst still being in force when we leave and therefore making digital sales to Europe not viable for SME’s, at least we can focus on opening up other more forward thinking markets

  19. Posted July 19, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Asking the media to contribute about the ways they may have gained or suffered from EU intervention is being very optimistic . Some , like the BBC receive financial support , others have substantial foreign ownership .

    Training in the Fine Arts is quite a feature in our educational profile and it is no surprise that it has contributed to our economy . The major dealers are located in this country and in the USA for the simple reason that acquisition of creative works have always been regarded as major investments and the wealth exists to enjoy them .

    Another area of interest – and wealth creation is in vintage cars . Some years ago I raced and owned an Aston Martin ; I sold it in 1965 for the pricely sum of £11,500 . One of the 19 models produced was sold in New York last year for £3,800,000 . I should have kept it !.

  20. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    What about addressing questions likely to be more relevant to the average Brit than the art market?
    For example, the report from “A Food Brexit: Time to Get Real”.
    Or is it too down to earth?

  21. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Foreign aid is generally speaking insufficient, and often semi-cash donations prevail, which de facto do little if any good for those in need. The EU’s protection of domestic farming prevents the developing countries from helping themselves via exports. The UK would be able to turn aid into something of true impact to the poorest in the world, once outside the selfish rules of the EU.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Good point. The abolition of the CAP would do far more to alleviate poverty in developing countries than any aid from the UK or other EU countries.

  22. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I doubt many are interested in the economics of the art market.

    However, it is increasingly obvious that we need active Brexiteers who make the running in these negotiations.

    Brexit fatigue seems to have set in. Remainers hit the headlines and control the narrative. A reactive Leave position looks weak. Cabinet in fighting does not help. Now UKIP have thrown in the towel with a former leader claiming Brexit will never happen.

    Delay and divide tactics suit the EU. Stagnant status quo or ‘transition’ as they refer to it could buy time until Brexit is totally defeated.

    The time to walk away is getting closer.

  23. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Off Topic: many ask why Mr.Redwood does not join the cabinet to instil some purpose, backbone, rational thinking and experience to what is clearly a motley bunch of indecisive, irritatingly hopeless individuals who presently sit there. I have asked myself many times why he doesn’t push himself forward in this way because we know that if he did it would be not be for personal ambition but to serve the Country unlike many others. He obviously has his own reasons for not doing so and that we have to respect. However we need hardnosed strong clear thinking people in there to galvanise the lethargy that presently exists and stop the embittered in-fighting that appears to be the main function of this dissolute bunch of castoffs. Bring in the Mogg Miester because clearly he doesn’t tolerate Mickey Mouse in an adult setting.

    Reply You do not apply for a Cabinet job or put yourself forward. The PM can choose any MPs she likes, and I have not been offered a Cabinet job. I was offered a number of Shadow Cabinet jobs which I undertook when asked to do so.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: thanks for this Mr. Redwood. However we need Cabinet Ministers who we can trust NOT to comment outside of their remit;certainly not to comment outside of Cabinet in a manner that gives those whom we are negotiating with the opportunity to treat us with derision (they don’t know what they want!). We need Ministers who are grown up enough to deal with flack within the group and not whinge outside it and Ministers grown up enough not to cause division within the ranks. We need professionalism in this Cabinet and a Leader who comes down hard on Cabinet colleagues who speak out on ‘direction’ without the authority to do so and on those who engage in bickering, in-fighting or whispering thereby under-mining their colleagues. There is no excuse for any of this and the PM needs direction by the Backbench 22 Committee whilst she is under Managing Performance to ensure that she and her Team speak with one voice at an agreed time. Meantime the skills of highly respected and experienced MPs are not being utilized to serve their Country. Shame.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that one of the reasons is that Mr Redwood backed Andrea Leadsome for leader and before that I doubt he backed David Cameron ‘ s campaign. Plus Mr Redwood sacrificed himself as the stalking horse against PM Major.

      Sadly it will be a long time before a Conservative leader asks Mr Redwood to serve as in the next leadership election he will again follow his principles and back a grass roots supported candidate who is not acceptable to the Parliamentary party.

      I do hope the leaders who pass you over Mr Redwood at least seek your counsel often.

  24. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Excellent, an aspect of the Brexit debate few, I suspect, would know about. Please keep highlighting positives that can actually be measured rather than the generalisations of the Remain campaign.

    Only early days but the Cabinet chatter seems to have quitened down, no doubt as a senior pro you were ‘encouraging’ this. Again please keep your thumb on the artery to stem the bleeding.

  25. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    You REALLY don’t want my comments on the arty-party people. I would offend about 99.9% of them.

  26. Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Kinda forgot all our rock musicians bringing in large sums.

    Mrs T used to visit their video sets, and thank them for their contribution to the economy.

  27. Posted July 19, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    My concern is that we bring all the EU laws into British law via the Great Repeal Bill but then there isn’t the commons majority to overturn the ones we don’t like and we are stuck with them. Something like the living artists levy on a re sale is a classic example where the liberal left will kick up a stink about depriving poor artists of an income. I agree with you that we live in a global economy and our businesses have to be competitive but it seems to me many politicians put their personal values above that of the country. I would be more selective at this stage about stripping out unwanted EU rules and laws rather than trying to remove them later.

    On the fishing front the Government needs to put in some investment now if they want to benefit from taking back our waters. We can’t fish without trawlers and processing plants. I’ve mentioned before that Fleetwood had 120 trawlers in the 1960s and was the third largest fishing port in the country and now it doesn’t have one trawler left. I doubt there is the will to revitalise Fleetwood but maybe some of the other ports can be saved.

  28. Posted July 19, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    trading in second hand goods doesn’t add anything to the economy

  29. Posted July 19, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The EU single market is an anachronism and was only relevant if at all as an early experiment to indicate how global trade should be conducted or any international trade. It of course was a political construct the single market was only tagged on as an attraction and therefore only became an experiment by accident. However usefully it has demonstrated how international trade should not be conducted. In fact not in the manner of the EU single market where rules, regulations and other barriers create a a cronyist environment for producers and vested interests at the expense of consumers.

    What it has taught us or those of us that did not already know is that international trade is most attractive when it is free of rules and barriers except to ensure honesty. Brexit allows the UK to divest herself of the protectionist chains of the EU and resume it’s traditional role of promoter and champion of free trade so as to give the Circa 6 billion consumers access to the wealth that free trade offers.

  30. Posted July 19, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    As regards the art market I don’t know why we should be any better off outside of the EU than inside it, i don’t think it matters a blind bit of difference to those engaged in the art market. Most of the people moving in that circle are living in a different planet from the rest of us- as i suspect they probably think brexit is something akin to weetabix

  31. Posted July 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    On the wider topic of post-Brexit Britain, I have been dismayed by two articles I have read, one by a German industrialist in the Spectator and one in this morning’s Times by a EU MP, Hans-Olaf Hempel. Both writers claim that the EU is determined to make sure that Brexit is such a catastrophe that no country will dare to think of leaving in the future.

    The prospect of life after Brexit is challenging, but how dismal too is the future of the EU that has fear and control at the root of its power rather than optimism and mutual respect between member states. Although I voted reluctantly to remain, I feel the conflicts within the EU – and they are many – and the attitude of the High Command in Brussels to dissenting member states do not augur well for the future of the EU.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink


  32. Posted July 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Let us hope the charges on credit card payments to Local Councils will also be banned. In addition, since it is such a good idea and Councils are technically not businesses, the Councils should refund their ill-gotten gains from the moment of the idea’s conception.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      2.2% for a credit card payment for rent, council-tax etc in my local council and ALMO housing “association.” . It’s a bit more than the 16p or 5p being indicated on the media as the the cost of processing one card payment. So what did they do with the money?

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      You will be telling me next that the NHS will be stopped from taxing people through over the top car park charging…

      • Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink


        I doubt this when they have taken NHS staff to court for parking fines. It comes to something when you get fined to park to go to work.

        • Posted July 20, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

          I got screamed at by NHS security for parking in a public car park, they thought I was staff because I went regularly, who apparently are not allowed to use the public but expensive car park, took photos of me and the car, frankly they are lucky I did not hit them given the poor care my relative was getting inside.

    • Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Wac. Credit card providers charge a percentage of perhaps up to 2% to the recipient whilst a Debit Card charge may only be 20p.

      This means that someone using a Credit Card is, in effect, getting a discount especially if they get some sort of reward for using the card.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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