Here’s looking at you, 2019: PAI’s top five stories


Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time,” is a lyric that is, perhaps, very relatable to the art industry. And with more artists, collectors and trends trying to find their place on the ladder, the times they definitely are a-changin’.

These past six months, the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5), the emerging art company models and the rise of contemporary art figures – such as Yoshitomo Nara and Banksy – have captured readers’ attention the most on Private Art Investor.

Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5)

In October, Private Art Investor plunged into the depths of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and what it entails for the various players in an art transaction – many of whom are often unknown to each other.

AMLD5 was released to fortify the EU’s stand against money laundering and terrorism financing; following a series of events in 2016. The new directive comes into effect on January 10, 2020. It outlines that art deals in excess of €10,000 must show sufficient processes for their dealings.

The new directive outlines that art deals in excess of €10,000 must show sufficient processes for their dealings.

Dealers will be forced to find out and identify the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) of a given art transaction. Founder of ArtSecure, Phoebe Kouvelas, answered specific questions and said: “I think dealers will be most affected as the price threshold is so low.” Read the full story here.

In December, managing partner of law firm CB&M Partners, Giuseppe Calabi, told Private Art Investor that it will certainly create a burden on galleries, dealers and intermediaries, but that there would less pressure in places like Italy. Here, the obligation to identify the client already exists. Read what else he had to say on the matter.

Later in December, Kouvelas contributed to Private Art Investor with a practical guide to the new due diligence obligations. Here’s where to find it.  

Emerging art company models

Anti-money laundering wasn’t the only topic that attracted our readers in the past half year. The emergence of new models, such as experience-led, fractional ownership – in the case of Masterworks and Feral Horses – and the agency model – such as MTArt Agency and A3 – have taken flight on the site.  

Earlier this year, Marine Tanguy, founder of MTArt Agency contributed to PAI. Tanguy outlined how the agency model would change the art market in the near future. For years the gallery model has dominated, she said, but the online world will soon give it stiff competition.

Two in three galleries in the UK are losing money and the industry remains overly dependent on the wealth of major benefactors.” Here’s how artist agencies plan to change this. 

In October, the concept of share-based art ownership was well-received by PAI’s readers. Companies such as Feral Horses sell art in shares – giving art buyers a chance to attend art events and engage without displaying in their private spaces. Many have credited “generation rent” for this shift.

One of the artworks available for fractional ownership through Feral Horses earlier this year.

But there is no doubt that concepts like rental art and digital art sales will come to the fore in the new decade. Read more about latest art market trends here.

Rise of contemporary art figures

The rise of contemporary figures – both literal and figurative – made up the third biggest trend amongst PAI reads.

One of the most popular stories on our website was about Yoshitomo Nara’s record-setting US $25m Knife Behind Back (2000), which sold after a 10-minute bidding battle hosted by Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

Despite the global trade war and civil unrest in Hong Kong, Asian contemporary art has soared in 2018 and 2019. Sotheby’s topped the auction house’s list, in Asia, for most sales in 2019 – coming in at US $936m.’s report on the best auction houses for 2018/19 shows seven out of the top 10 operators were Asian, mostly Chinese. These operators were responsible for 12% of the global contemporary art market, thanks to the success of Chinese artists, as well as the Western interest in multi-million-dollar Chinese sales.

Popular agent provocateurs like Banksy and Maurizio Cattelan also made constant headlines in 2019. Banksy’s record-setting canvas Devolved Parliament, a direct comment on UK’s House of Commons and the contentious The Drinker sculpture dominated in the autumn. While Cattelan’s 18-karat gold toilet America (which was stolen) and banana duct-taped to a wall, titled Comedian, commandeered the year to a close. 

The most popular stories of the past six months were selected according to Google Analytics’s independent assessment of Private Art Investor’s web traffic.

Meanwhile, the entire team at Private Art Investor would like to wish you Happy holidays and a prosperous and safe New Year.

Private Art Investor’s top five (according to our readers):

  1. Yoshitomo Nara’s Knife Behind Back fetches US $25m
  2. What you need to know about the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive
  3. Agents for change: how the emerging agency model will change the art market
  4. How Feral Horses is taming experience-led art ownership
  5. The role of an art advisor in today’s market

If you have enjoyed our coverage or have any suggestions for what you might like to see on PAI in 2020, please email Yuvan Kumar. Alternatively, please feel free to get in touch via our social media streams: Twitter and LinkedIn.