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Art Cologne: sales tax rise dampens dealers' spirits

Art Cologne: sales tax rise dampens dealers' spirits
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The oldest air fair in the world, Art Cologne, is the place to be for art dealers, buyer and lovers.

This year’s edition features more than 200 galleries from 25 countries, with art ranging from classical modern to works that were fresh from the atelier, including by world-famous artists like Ai Weiwei.

However, a dark cloud is hanging over Germany’s art world – in the shape of an EU directive to abolish tax breaks for art dealers, for whom VAT has shot up from seven percent to 19 percent.

“This tax increase is bad news for us – it doesn’t make any sense that the EU should accept reduced VAT for books, concerts and cinema tickets and should exclude fine arts. To consider art galleries simply as art dealers is wrong. As our culture minister pointed it out, galleries play an important role for society in promoting artists’ work,” said Kristian Jarmuschek, chairman of the Association of German Galleries and Art Traders.

The most expensive work on show this year is German expressionist painter Franz Marc’s ‘The Fear of the Hare’ – on sale for more than nine million euros.

Aficionados can also buy works by German expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. None of their pieces are going for less than one million euros.

Art Cologne was expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors.