The New York Times today features a piece about millions of works of art stored by wealthy collectors in a “free port” in Geneva for tax purposes. You buy a work of art in New York for $100 million and avoid a $4 million tax assessment by shipping the work to a free port. And there it is in storage, accumulated as investment.
This image that accompanies the piece shows a chain-link and barbed-wire fence that surrounds the Geneva Free Port.
It is meant, of course, to keep thieves out. But as early advertisers of barbed wire knew well, a barbed-wire fence looks in both directions, inward and outward. While keeping thieves out, the fence imprisons the art.
The super rich don’t pay taxes, nor do they appreciate the art. They just let the art appreciate in the dark of the free port prison.