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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 14:09 GMT
Europe art dealers 'losing trade'
Maastricht hosts one of the world's largest art fairs
Maastricht hosts one of the world's largest art fairs
European art dealers are missing out on big deals to their US counterparts due to restrictive European Union laws, according to a new report.

The Fine Arts industry has issued a report suggesting a Europe wide tax on imported artworks has driven as much as seven per cent of the art market to the US.


The EU thought by introducing an import VAT they would get more money but the opposite is the case

Johnny Van Haeften, art dealer
That could mean millions of pounds being lost by British dealers.

The report comes at the launch of the Maastricht art fair in the Netherlands, one of the world's biggest festivals.

London art dealer Johnny Van Haeften warns that the current system is not working.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The EU has shot itself in the foot."

He added: "At the moment VAT is levied on the profit margins on all works of art.

"If the market was free, they would be much more art circulating. The EU thought by introducing an import VAT they would get more money but the opposite is the case."

Unveiling

However the dispute is refusing to overshadow the arrival of a rare Rembrandt which is expected to fetch more than 30m at auction.

After a year of careful restoration work, his painting of the Goddess Minerva makes her debut at the art fair.

It was painted in 1635 and is regarded as one of Rembrandt's most important historical works.

The work was once owned by the Swedish inventor of the Electrolux vacuum cleaner and then by Baron Bich, the Bic ballpoint pen magnate.

New York art dealer Otto Naumann picked up the painting for 20m last year.

The EU say that the sale of the Rembrandt shows that the art market here is as buoyant as ever.

More than 200 dealers from 13 countries have been invited to the Dutch town for the fair, which ends on 17 March.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rosie Millard
reports from the Maastricht Art Fair
See also:

07 Jun 01 | Arts
In pictures: Venice Biennale
25 Oct 99 | e-cyclopedia
Art attacks: Don't handle with care
04 Feb 99 | e-cyclopedia
Neurotic realism: Come again?
20 Jun 01 | Arts
Artist's champion dies
09 May 00 | UK
Modern times for the Tate
14 Aug 01 | Reviews
Jeff Koons: King of kitsch
13 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Rembrandt fetches 19.8m
23 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Shock art hits London
23 Mar 00 | UK
Artists unveil Tate Britain
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