Government vows to toughen laws to fight art forgery

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Government vows to toughen laws to fight art forgery

The government pushes to fight against art forgery by firming up relevant laws in the wake of a series of high profile art forgery scandals that have hit the country since last year, the Culture Ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said a piece of legislation regarding art transactions and appraisal passed a cabinet meeting and will be submitted to the National Assembly for further discussion by the end of the year.

Under the bill, a person involved in creating fake art will face a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to 50 million won ($46,450). For repeat criminals, the penalty could be three times as strong.

The ministry said the legislation is designed to improve transparency in transactions and root out forgeries in the local art market.

So far, art forgery cases have been tried as cases of fraud or counterfeiting, since there was no specific law addressing them. But when and if the bill becomes law, it will be the first of its kind to specifically focusing on forgery in art.

In a media briefing Tuesday, Shin Eun-hyang, head of the ministry’s Visual Arts and Design Division, said that those who produce fake art will be punished not only for unlawful economic gain but also for harming the public trust and order.

The legislation also mentions new legal responsibilities for those selling art, such as an issuance of a contract and warranty for an art piece worth more than 10 million won and documentation of an artwork’s transaction history. Auction dealers should unveil auction prices, not let interested parties take part in auctions they cover and reveal beforehand any special relationships with people whose pieces they auction.

The bill is a compromise version of legislation the ministry suggested in October, when it moved to ban galleries from running auctions and to make reports on art transactions mandatory.

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