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ArtRio opens amid debate on Brazil's import taxes

Associated Press 


Women talk in front of a painting by Jonas Burgert from the Blain Southern gallery during a private viewing of ART Rio-International Art Fair in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 100 galleries from more than a dozen countries are taking part in the five-day event, which opened Thursday to the General Public.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Gallery owner Renato Gouvea Jr. stares at a wall full of art and laments what's missing.

Sure, his exhibition at ArtRio, which opened this week and is now among the world's top art fairs, is respectable. There are paintings from masters such as Chagall and Brazilian Di Cavalcanti. But Gouvea is more ambitious.

Holding him and other Brazilian collectors back are taxes, he says. The wealthy connoisseurs flocking to the Rio show are complaining about steep import tariffs on fine art that can almost double the price of pieces bought abroad, leading many collectors to simply leave their top works outside the country.

"A friend bought a (John) Chamberlain sculpture for $400,000 at the latest Basel show in Europe and couldn't wait to bring this cool piece back to Brazil," said Gouvea, an owner of the Arte57 gallery in Sao Paulo. "Then he found out what the import taxes would be. Today, that sculpture sits in a home he has in the U.S."

Lowering art taxes for super-rich collectors doesn't rank high on the government's list of priorities, especially following recent nationwide protests over the woeful state of public hospitals, schools and infrastructure average Brazilians get in return for sky-high income tax rates. ...more



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