Importing works of art

Art market

Importing works of art


It is well known that the importation of works of art is the introduction into Spanish territory of these cultural goods, including those originating from a European Union country.

On the other hand, perhaps what is not so well known are the two possibilities that the procedure allows for the importation of cultural goods, provided that the importation has been made legally and is duly documented.

The first possibility is to request, from the competent autonomous community, that the work in question be included in the general inventory of movable property (IGBM) or be declared an asset of cultural interest (BIC).

And this with the aim that, once the work of art is included in the IGBM or declared BIC, a deduction is obtained in the taxes on the income of physical persons or on the corporate tax in the quota of the 15% of the amount of investments or expenses that the owner of the piece has made to acquire it abroad, but with the condition that this work remains in Spanish territory and within the patrimony of its holder for at least four years .

Consequently, when choosing this first option, even if a tax deduction is obtained, it is no less true that we must correctly assess the conditions that are imposed and the way in which they can affect us.

The second possibility is to submit, to the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Fine Arts of the ministry, a request for an import declaration, which can be submitted within a maximum period of three months from the date of the import

For works of art from countries that are not members of the European Union, the documentation that must be provided is that which proves the ownership of the good (for example, the purchase invoice) and the single customs document of importation. On the other hand, for works of art that come from EU member countries, in addition to the document attesting the ownership, only a document attesting the date of entry of the good into Spain is needed (for example, the invoice of the carrier).

From the presentation of this declaration to the ministry, a special regime will be derived for a period of ten years (extendable to ten more, if requested) with a series of advantages in the event that the owner of the piece wants to export it again outside of Spain.

These advantages are: that the export cannot be refused, it will not pay taxes, it will not be subject to any preferential right of acquisition that is specific to the administration (irrevocable sale offer or right of trial and withdrawal) and it cannot be declared asset of cultural interest, unless the owner so requests.

Finally, and not least, point out that this special regime is objective, not subjective; consequently, it is granted to the property declared before the ministry, whoever the owner is. 

The sixteen Catalan galleries have a positive balance, although with reservations when it comes to closing some commercial sales. Even so, feedback regarding sales has been positive. We do not know to what extent the unleashed war conflict will determine the closure of some operations that were already agreed in advance. A fair, that of ARCO, more affordable in terms of dimensions and, although with fewer galleries, the proposals have had a high level of approaches, such as more internationalization and a closer approach with Latin American countries. Only the official figures of institutions and museums come to light, and provide some collective joys. For example, the Reina Sofía Museum acquired around fifteen works by national and international artists with an approximate budget of 360,000 euros. The economic crisis and the current situation cause more moderation than in previous years. A moment that makes us reflect again on the favorable situation to undertake a new collection at suitable prices. With this uncertainty, collectors appear again with more force, while speculators and investors retreat in anticipation of a more favorable situation. Everyone wants 2023 to be the year of normalcy. Now it's time to take stock, recover physical and economic strength and rethink new bets.

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