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  1. Wealth
October 28, 2019

UK art exports jump amid ‘weak sterling’

By Arun Kakar

New research from Boodle Hatfield has found that the UK’s art exports are surging as Brexit comes to bear, writes Arun Kakar

Art and antiques exported to the UK rose by 24 per cent to £6.4 billion in the year to August in a surge driven by a ‘weaker sterling against the dollar’. Research shows that exports from the UK to the US have increased by £1.2 billion to £4.1 billion over the same period, meaning that the US now accounts for 54 per cent of all art exported from the UK.

Exports to the EU remain strong too. The total value of art exported from the UK to the EU rising 87 per cent to £219 million – up from £118 million five years earlier.

The research, conducted by private wealth law firm Boodle Hatfield, also noted that the UK’s strength at the ‘forefront’ of the global modern and contemporary market allowed it to benefit from the market’s growth. Sales for London’s post-war and contemporary auctions in 2018 rose by a staggering 52 per cent to $ 11.2 billion, the highest level for the segment since 2010.

This success is in large part due to the increasing profile of UK urban artists like Banksy, who set a personal auction record with the £1.15 million fetched for Devolved Parliament in October.

‘Weak sterling means there has rarely been a better time to buy art in the UK for foreign investors and collectors,’ says Boodle Hatfield associate Fred Clark. ‘The art market is going through a period of great flux as online sales become the norm, an auction in London can now easily sell to buyers anywhere in the world.

‘This means the wide range of contemporary art available for sale in the UK has a growing pool of buyers.’

The UK also benefits from the lowest import tax rate in the UK at 5 per cent (compared to 21 per cent for Spain for instance), a factor that Boodle Hatfield said enables dealers and galleries to import art cheaply into the country and then move it throughout the EU single market without the need to pay further tax.

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It noted that Brexit is likely to impact this ‘in due course’, as those in the art market may already be moving stock to avoid potential increases in import tax. It added that new licensing requirements could be imposed after the UK leaves the bloc.

‘Whilst Brexit poses a threat, it is important to remember that the majority of demand for art from the UK comes outside the EU,’ added Clark.

Arun Kakar writes for Spear’s

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