The art market is often described as ‘niche’. In reality, it is a significant trade industry: sales of art and antiques by dealers and auction houses reached an estimated USD 65.1 billion in 2021. And like many industries of this size, it attracts people seeking to abuse it to launder proceeds of crime or evade sanctions.

This quick guide briefly explains the unique characteristics of the art market that make it vulnerable to this type of abuse. It also outlines steps that jurisdictions can take to prevent and combat abuse of the sector for illicit purposes.

The art trade market is global, highly fragmented and complex, involving a great variety of operators. In light of this complexity, the current level of regulation and existing compliance efforts by individual operators has proven to be insufficient. With some competitors engaged in unethical or illegal behaviour, operating profitably while acting with integrity and ethics is increasingly difficult.