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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 13:36 GMT
UK losing out in world art market
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
The Met in New York spent $50m on one piece of art in 2004/5
British museums are being priced out of the market when it comes to acquiring artwork, a survey has suggested.

Research conducted by a UK charity, the Art Fund, found New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art spent 53.5m buying new works in 2004 and 2005.

The city's MoMa gallery spent 20m. The Louvre in Paris allocated 16.8m.

But London's National Gallery only spent 6.3m. Art Fund director David Barrie said the contrast was due to not enough funding and "rampant inflation".

Auction prices for old masters and modern art have soared in recent years.

The UK's four Tate Galleries spent a combined total of 4.8m in 2004 and 2005, while the British Museum spent 761,000.

Klimt's Adele Bloch-Bauer II (detail)
Klimt's Adele Bloch-Bauer II recently sold for $88m (45m) in New York

Mr Barrie acknowledged that increased government spending over the last nine years had resulted in a "transformation" in the UK's museums and galleries.

"But the new research suggests that even our greatest museums and galleries can no longer compete effectively on the world stage," he said.

He added that the tax regime in the US was extremely generous in encouraging private and corporate donations and urged the UK government to follow suit if public funding could not be increased.

New York's Metropolitan Museum usually spends between 30m and 40m on new acquisitions each year but 2004/2005 proved to be an exceptional year when it bought Duccio's Madonna and Child for $50m (25.8m).

The Art Fund handed out over 4m to UK galleries and museums last year.

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