Encouraging Responsible Markets and Trade Practices

We advocate for protecting the American art and antiquities market from money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions violations, tax evasion, fraud, forgery, and related crimes.



The American art market is considered the largest unregulated market in the world, making it vulnerable to a wide range of financial crimes. This ongoing exemption from standard financial regulatory laws and oversight, which now cover all industries of comparable risk and size, is a documented and growing threat to our national security and integrity, as well as the vast majority of legitimate collectors, dealers, auction houses, and museums. Unless and until the U.S. public and private sectors close these loopholes, they will leave the world’s largest economy wide open to money launderers, artifact traffickers, drug smugglers, kleptocrats, oligarchs, terrorists, and the many other criminals proven to have exploited the art market’s weaknesses.




Art, Antiquities and Financial Crimes: A Collection of Case Studies curated by the Financial Crimes Task Force of the Antiquities Coalition

In recent years, a growing number of scandals, investigations, prosecutions, and convictions have demonstrated the art market’s dangerous vulnerability to a wide range of financial crimes. This interactive StoryMap illustrates case studies from around the world. While the United States remains the world’s largest art market, and thus dominates any survey, these examples make clear this is a global problem. The cultural objects involved likewise span geography, as well as history, from ancient relics, to Monets and Van Goghs, to Dalis and Picassos, as well as fakes and forgeries. Sometimes these antiquities and artworks are central to the crimes themselves, but just as often, they are tools to launder the proceeds of artifact trafficking, drug smuggling, embezzlement, corruption, or other crimes. The criminals responsible range from small time crooks to infamous kleptocrats, from white-collar embezzlers to black-clad ISIS thugs. However, they are rarely dedicated collectors or professionals from the art market, but rather bad actors seeking to exploit the sector’s many weaknesses. Thankfully, if the U.S. government and private sector work together, there is much they can do to fight back.


U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Legislation

Unfortunately, dealers, galleries, and auction houses are not yet covered by the Bank Secrecy Act, the United States’ primary anti-money laundering law, which requires at-risk industries to assist the government in preventing and detecting financial crimes. The statute already applies to dealers in precious metals, stones and jewels, as well as sellers of automobiles, planes and boats, casinos, real estate professionals, travel agencies and pawnshops. Congress is continuing a bipartisan push to tackle this major loophole, as seen from this interactive timeline.


Global Anti-Money Laundering Legislation

If the United States fails to act, it risks our own market becoming a safe haven for financial criminals. This is because other major market jurisdictions—including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the European Union—have already taken similar action to fight money laundering and terrorist financing in their art markets. This map highlights examples of these and other relevant legislation around the world.