In a move designed to encourage overseas trade, the changes include the introduction of a monetary level below which many works of art can be sold to foreign buyers without the need for export licences.
The threshold of €13,500 will operate for most objects but excludes archaeological artefacts, manuscripts and incunabula.
The government has also agreed to amend the law dictating that any work created more than 50 years ago by a dead artist required an export licence, regardless of its value.
This term has now been extended to 70 years – one that could benefit the market. Opponents of Italy’s famously bureaucratic system have long highlighted the country’s failure to take advantage of the art market boom – and the escalating prices for Italy’s own crop of post-war artists in particular.
The 70-year limit was a compromise and falls short of the 100-year cut-off proposed back in October 2015, when stakeholders in the Italian art market met lawmakers in the hope of overturning legislation they said has hampered the country’s art market for a century. This was the first time Italian auctioneers, the dealing community and the representatives of international firms had come together to form a lobbying group aimed at achieving a level playing field for Italy in the European art market.
According to successive TEFAF reports, over the past decade the Italian art market has rarely constituted more than 1% of global sales. Many have put the blame firmly at the doorstep of protectionist legislation first introduced in 1909.