"Money laundering in the art world has been identified as an issue, as detailed by a bipartisan Senate investigation last year:
The Senate report details how a pair of Russian oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly seized on the secrecy of the art industry to evade sanctions by making more than $18 million in high-value art purchases.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” investigators for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations told reporters on a call. The art world is considered to be the largest legal unregulated industry in the United States, according to the Senate investigation.
The Rotenberg example and many other investigation details highlight the fact that, unlike selling stock or making routine bank transfers, art sales through auction houses are not subject to anti-money laundering provisions in the Bank Secrecy Act. When art is sold, according to the report, sellers are not required to confirm the identity of the buyer nor to make sure the artwork isn’t being used to launder dirty money.