Shanghai’s “Le Freeport West Bund” is finally taking off.
artnet News’ Chinese team reports that a letter of intent was signed by the state-owned Shanghai West Bund Development Group Co. Ltd and the Swiss holding company EuroAsia Investment Group, committing to the project.
Le Freeport—which will allow art professionals and collectors to store art in mainland China and pay little to no import tax—has been eagerly awaited by the international art trade, which sees it as a major boost for business in the country.
This is the latest development of the “West Bund Fine Art Warehouses” that opened in 2014 and have already housed art for an estimated 30 art organizations, including Long Museum West Bund, Yuz Art Museum, and Sotheby’s.
With this new freeport, Shanghai could position itself as a significant competitor to Singapore and Hong Kong, a secure a strategic position in the Asian market.
Nonetheless, the announcement might raise a few eyebrows.
The president of EuroAsia Investment is Yves Bouvier, the so-called “Freeport King,” who oversees freeport operations in Singapore, Geneva, and Luxembourg, and has found himself caught in a major fraud scandal.
Bouvier has been accused by his longtime client, the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, of overcharging him during the sale of high-value artworks.
Courts in Hong Kong and Singapore have ordered a freeze of Bouvier’s assets, and Geneva officials are hoping to do the same for the businessman’s assets still held in Switzerland.
Le Freeport is set to spread over 25,000 square meters in the area of Xuhui, Binjiang district. According to the South China Morning Post, it will open in 2017.
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