Obsolete law takes shine off art show

  • Gargi Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Aug 20, 2009 01:14 IST

It’s only into its second year, but the India Art Summit is already getting global attention.

Seventeen of the 54 participating galleries at the art fair, which began at Pragati Maidan on Wednesday, are from abroad.

They include renowned names such as London’s Lisson Gallery and Dusseldorf’s Beck & Eggeling.

But here’s the funny thing: galleries can’t make a sale unless they deposit the worth of the paintings plus taxes with the government.

This is because of the ATA Carnet, a kind of customs agreement, under which galleries have to furnish bank guarantees to the tune of 100 per cent of the value of their works. They will get back 98 per cent of the money when they take the artworks back with them.

“So even if you don’t sell, the government makes 2 per cent on it,” said Michelle D’Souza, director, Lisson Gallery, London.

No wonder, small galleries have been able to bring in only a couple of works.

Art lovers can blame commerce for their loss.


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