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The Art of Money Laundering

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The Art of Money Laundering

The loosely regulated art market is rife with opportunities for washing illicit cash


5 min read
2 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The law is catching up with money laundering in the world of fine art.

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Because the market for fine art and antiquities is secretive and largely unsupervised, it is a haven in which criminals can easily launder their ill-gotten gains – to the tune of an estimated $3 billion in 2018. In this concise and illuminating article, journalist Tom Mashberg paints a colorful picture of what is largely the last unregulated financial market in the world.


The rarified art market is a choice venue for money launderers.

Some $67.4 billion underpins the licit market in fine art, but the art world has also attracted a good deal of dirty money, largely because of the market’s defining characteristics: Paintings, sculptures and artifacts are pricey, and their valuations are subjective. Owners of these esteemed items are often anonymous, and no one checks buyers’ backgrounds in art sales. Large cash transactions have no reporting requirements. Parties to a transaction can use false names and hide or even smuggle works. Sales often occur in private settings, and some...

About the Author

Tom Mashberg is a syndicated journalist who writes about crimes in art and rare artifacts.

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