The Secret Cost of Anonymity

The issue of transparency in art market sales is a recurring subject of debate. However, a series of recent incidents--the 1MDB scandal, the Yves Bouvier contretemps, the Panama Papers reveal and the Knoedler forgery case--have underscored the attendant opportunities for both fraud and financial misdeeds. An additional factor that is not discussed in the New York Times article is the rapid growth of financial services offered by the major auction houses who may essential function as lending institutions. Another point of interest is that, even in some very high value sales, auction houses themselves may not know the true identity of the consignor.