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The Art Market Regulation conference was held in the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage on November 21, under the auspices of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum.
The participants – representatives of government regulators, lawyers, entrepreneurs and art market players – debated the current agenda pertaining to the ownership and circulation of cultural assets.
Opening the conference, General Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky noted the significance of the event and its outputs for St. Petersburg and Russia.
"The laws and the national policy on culture rest upon a balance of the overarching interests of culture and its development, regardless of what the culture is and whether some like or not,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, State Hermitage CEO, said. “We want the laws, and the enforcement of the laws, to assist in the keeping of this balance.”
The session on the Regulation of the Import/Export of Cultural Assets: Current Challenges for the Art Market Players, moderated by Yuri Liubimov, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, provided an opportunity to debate the pertinent current legislation and, in dialogue between the art market players and representatives of the government regulators, to develop the approaches to debating the much-needed amendments to this legislation. Speaking at the session were Elena Borisenko, Member of the Executive Committee and First Vice President of Gazprombank, Leonid Mikhelson, Member of the Board, Chairman of the Executive Committee of PAO NOVATEC, Founder and President of V-A-C Foundation, Vitaly Prokayev, Deputy Director, Department of Taxation and Customs Policy, Marina Tsiguleva, Head of the Legal Department, State Hermitage.
Marina Tsiguleva reported that two draft bills are currently on the table at the National Duma, both devoted to the ownership and circulation of cultural assets. These drafts have a number of flaws as regards the definition of “cultural asset” and the levy of import duties on cross-border traffic of artworks.
Leonid Mikhelson suggested that the import/export process of cultural assets should be simplified, and the definition of “cultural asset” should be further clarified and disengaged from the time of creation of the cultural asset in question.
"Transformation of the institution for the evaluation of cultural assets is a serious matter as it involves the enactment of formal procedures for attestation, certification of the professional credentials of the cultural evaluators and, most importantly, unrestricted access to information,” said Leonid Mikhelson, Member of the Board, Chairman of the Executive Committee of PAO NOVATEC, Founder and President of V-A-C Foundation. “This could be one of the major stumbling blocks that are holding back the new legislation.”
In his presentation, Vitaly Prokayev brought up the absence of a conceptual framework which, he believes, is a serious problem. Conceptual framework is either lacking in the current legislation, or it is not harmonized with the laws of the EurAsian Economic Community.
“The crème de la crème of the art market are here today,” said Vitaly Prokayev, Deputy Director, Department of Taxation and Customs Policy, “these are the people who deal with all these issues on a daily basis.”
Elena Borisenko noted that an open and transparent art market would assure both progress in art, and the market for artworks. It is one of the priority tasks at the moment to define the criteria that will be applied to the traffic of cultural assets, she said.
“The list of the participants of this conference looks incredibly impressive! Clearly, the subject is of interest to many parties concerned, and many have responded,” said Elena Borisenko, Member of the Executive Committee and First Vice President of Gazprombank.
Summing up the debate, Yuri Liubimov thanked the participants and speakers of the conference, and expressed the hope that events like this will be repeated regularly, bringing together lawyers and members of professional communities in a meaningful dialogue.
“We have launched a series of topic-specific conferences in preparation for the SPILF on purpose, in order to give every legal community an opportunity to discuss important issues with their homologues who are more deeply involved in one professional field or another,” said Yuri Liubimov, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation.
The second session, Challenges of the Civil-Law Circulation of Cultural Assets, was dedicated to the issues of inheritance of cultural property and passage of title. It was moderated by Maria Melnikova, Advisor to the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, and Maria Aleksandrova, Senior Lecturer in Civil Law at the School of Law of St. Petersburg State University. Speaking at the session were Anastasia Astashkevich, Managing Partner, Attorney, Astashkevich & Partners attorneys-at-law, Vasily Bychkov, Director of the Central House of Artists, President of the International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers, Mikhail Kamensky, Correspondence Fellow of the Russian Academy of the Arts, Konstantin Korsik, President of the Federal Notary Chamber, Kirill Rybak, Advisor to the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.
Currently under debate is the draft Federal Law No. 801269-6В “On Amendments to Parts the First, Second and Third of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, and to Selective Statutes of the Russian Federation” (improvements to inheritance law).
Speaking on behalf of the professional services community, Vasily Bychkov noted that art market players are often in the dark about the law-making process in the field of culture.
“The purpose of this conference, Art Market Regulation, is to clarify the legislation drafting and enactment process in the field of culture,” said Vasily Bychkov, Director of the Central House of Artists, President of the International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers.
“As far back as I can recall, this is the first time that the people who make national policy meet face to face with the people who become the actual victims of this national policy,” said Mikhail Kamensky, Correspondence Fellow of the Russian Academy of the Arts.
“It’s a welcome development that the SPILF platforms remain operational throughout the year, as opposed to in May only,” said Konstantin Korsik, President of the Federal Notary Chamber. “It is important that we get together as frequently as possible – there are just too many pressing issues to discuss in Moscow and St. Petersburg alike.”
“Legal regulation of the civil circulation of cultural assets is a prominent issue in Russian law enforcement practice,” said Anastasia Astashkevich, Managing Partner, Attorney, Astashkevich & Partners attorneys-at-law. “Indeed, current legislation abounds in gaps and contradictions.”
In the process of their debate, the speakers and debaters addressed the question of the passage of property title to objects of art, invoking international practice.
The video of the conference will be available for viewing at www.LFAcademy.ru