“If a person has the wisdom to not confuse the painting with its value, there is no difficulty; one buys what he wants, what he likes, and he keeps it: if one day he no longer likes it, he puts the painting in the attic. But those who wish to make an intelligent purchase, or combining the useful with the delightful, will find himself in a truly difficult situation.”

Maurice Rheims

Are works of art safe haven assets? A safe investment? Can we say that buying art is making a good investment? Are were safe from speculation? In all sincerity, I feel certain in saying without a shadow of a doubt: no! The sure-fire formula for making a good deal has not yet been invented and as of today there is only one method that can be profitable: a selfless love for art. Not speculators, but only great lovers of art have ever left a true and profound trace.

To safeguard buyers, the Cultural Assets Code imposes through Art. 64 that whosoever practices sales or exhibitions for commercial purposes or intermediation finalised at the sale of sculptures, graphic arts, paintings, and antique objects is obliged to deliver to the buyer the documentation that attests to the authenticity or at least the probable attribution of the work and its origins.. It must be drafted as follows:

  • It must be done on a photographic reproduction of the work.
  • It must bear the date and signature of the seller.
  • The description of the asset must be transcribed faithfully on the fiscal receipt of payment, which must take place according to current laws in force.

The use of a traceable payment method, also for sums less than those established by the law, guarantees certain proof of the passage of money and, in case of dispute, makes it possible to certify the coherence of the value compared to the asset.

Waiving the guarantee of one’s own investment for an economic discount by the seller should be considered reckless and in countless cases has proven to be very costly.

If the sale of the asset should take place between private parties, a simple written receipt should serve as a guarantee for the buyer and must contain:

  • Guarantee of exclusive ownership and availability of the object by the seller;
  • Certification of legal origins;
  • All the information and documentation concerning the object in the seller’s possession;

When purchasing a work of art, it must never be forgotten that the member nations of the United Nations have joined in the Convention on International Trade of endangered Species, or CITES, so that the trade of living or dead specimens of animals and plants that are censused as being species at risk of extinction are regulated and subdivided as follows:

  1. Protected species, in the strictest sense of the word (any form of trade is prohibited; use may be allowed only under extraordinary circumstances).
  2. Species subject to control (trade must be compatible with their survival and is subject to authorisation via CITES certification).
  3. Species subject to control by individual member nations (typically for nations that seek to protect particular endemic species).endemiche).

The complete list is available on the website of the Corpo Forestale of the Stato dei Carabinieri (Italian state organisation responsible for the planting and management of forests). The convention does not exclude that member states can implement even more restrictive control measures and prohibitions.

It is obligatory to request the authorisation certificate for all objects, made by anyone and during any period of time, it if contains elements of the species listed. The CITES authorisation is necessary for the sale on Italian soil, as well as for exportation, and is issued following an expert assessment for the purpose of identifying the material and the period of the object in question. This is followed by the request for the free circulation certificate at the Superintendency (regional board of the ministry of cultural heritage and environmental conservation).

Anything that is mobile or fixed of artistic, historic, archaeological, ethno-anthropological, archival, or bibliographical interest and everything identified by the law as testimony of value of civilisation is defined as a cultural Asset and is subject to the protection provided by the Cultural Assets Code. If the Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities has put it under protection, the transfer of ownership of these takes place with the authorisation of the Superintendency.

Paying attention to the advice above, the art lover is protected from the main risks but, regardless of the type of materials that characterise the object he is interested in, I am available for a preliminary confidential consultation.