The UK trade have their man at the helm of CINOA, the international federation of antique dealers associations, for the first time in 13 years. Henry Neville, chairman of Mallett, was elected president at the annual general assembly in Dublin at the end of June.
“It is my intention to continue to reinforce its (CINOA’s) aims which are to be a political voice for the art and antiques market internationally, to continue to improve the channel of communications between countries and to provide a global ethical body,” said Mr Neville in his acceptance speech.
Among the biggest challenges facing the cohesion of CINOA in the near future is the prospect of regulations governing the art trade such as UNIDROIT becoming international law. The French trade association SNA pulled out of CINOA last year when there was a danger that the Jospin-led French government would ratify UNIDROIT, which gives ownership of ‘stolen’ artefacts to their country of origin. However, Mr Neville and CINOA are “hopeful of better communication” with the newly elected, right wing French government.
“We are all in favour of the principle of protecting the public in countries from having their art stolen,” said Mr Neville, whose organisation owns part of the Art Loss Register, “but the application of UNIDROIT is flawed.”
Also high on Mr Neville’s agenda is the question of Import VAT, anathema to an organisation whose expressed aim is to “promote the abolition of restrictions on the import and export of cultural goods”. CINOA have hired Anthony Browne, chairman of the British Art Market Federation, as a political adviser to help lobby against the full implementation of Import VAT when the issue is raised again at the EU later this year.
Mr Neville’s second aim – “to improve the channel of communications between countries” – will hopefully be met with the expansion of cinoa.org, the organisation’s Website, which will include an intranet facility.
Providing a new set of ethical guidelines that will be adhered to – Mr Neville’s third aim – could prove more tricky. There is no doubt that a publicity drive to improve the somewhat tarnished public image of the international trade in the aftermath of the Fred Schultz antiquities case would be welcomed by dealers, particularly at a time when the dented confidence in the probity of the big auction houses could directly benefit their business.
“No specific case has prompted the change in the guidelines, which should be issued by the end of this year,” said Mr Neville, “but in the modern climate where litigation and investigation are prominent, we need to be aware of these pressures and communicate them to the trade.”
While CINOA clearly exist to promote the interests of the antiques trade, there are some issues that the president says are organisation. Campaigning for the abolition of the buyer’s premium in the European Courts, for instance, “will be up to the energy of the individual”.
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