Geneva
Geneva's Palais Justice. Art dealers, lawyers and consultants in the Swiss city have launched a code of conduct to try to improve the image of the city's art market. Photo by Romano1246 via Wikimedia Commons.

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The Responsible Art Market Initiative was launched at the Artgenève Salon d’art on January 26 with the publication of a set of guidelines designed to crack down on illegal activity in the city.

Geneva has come under increasing pressure to improve transparency following a number of seizures of looted art and antiquities from its free port. 

The list of 10 guidelines “on combating money laundering and terrorist financing” for vetting buyers and sellers of art have been drafted with the help of art law consultant and former legal director at Christie’s Mathilde Heaton. They include: risk assess your business; know your clients; research the artwork; ownership and provenance; keep records and train staff.

However, the steps taken by the group may not satisfy all. Christopher Marinello, chief executive of Art Recovery International, said: “The success of this initiative depends on whether art market professionals actually follow the guidelines. 

“What is needed is complete transparency across all of the free ports and banking sectors. Until every ‘off-shore’ locale embraces this, the problem is only going to shift to another part of the world.”