What Now for Credit Suisse’s Art Funding?

Court case casts doubt on the bank's future as a global sponsor.

Claudia Comte, <em>Big Bob, his square friend, and their diamond totem</em> (2013). Installation in the first-floor foyer at Credit Suisse, Forum Genève. Photo: via Credit Suisse website.

Claudia Comte, Big Bob, his square friend, and their diamond totem (2013). Installation in the first-floor foyer at Credit Suisse, Forum Genève. Photo: via Credit Suisse website.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse, which pleaded guilty on Monday to federal charges that it helped some US clients evade taxes, will pay $2.6 billion in penalties for its crimes. The impact of the case on the industry as a whole remains to be seen, but the art world may have cause for concern, as the bank supports a number of art museums and fairs around the world.

London’s National Gallery, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, and the Museo d’Arte Lugano, Switzerland, are among the museums the banks has partnered with. The Credit Suisse website contains a number of articles about exhibitions at those institutions that the bank has helped sponsor. In addition, Credit Suisse appears to have supported the 2013 Singapore Biennale and has ties to Art Basel.

The company boasts a 5,000 piece art collection, established in 1975, and is particularly supportive of young Swiss artists. According to the collection’s mission statement, “No attempt is made to draw attention to the collection by making spectacular purchases from established ‘top shots.’ The goal, rather, is to accompany and support individual artists over the long term, as their oeuvre evolves.”

Will the bank’s legal troubles force the company to scale back its patronage of the arts? artnet News certainly hopes not.

Credit Suisse is the first large bank to be found guilty of tax evasion. The legal battle between the US government and the bank was complicated by Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws. Now the US is cracking down on the banking industry, with Credit Suisse setting a clear example of how banks that engage in tax evasion will be dealt with.

Despite news of the company’s guilty plea, stocks for the bank rose 0.96 percent today.


[Featured image: Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, Filmstills, 2002, via http://www.hubbardbirchler.net. Hubbard/Birchler works are among those in the Credit Suisse art collection.]

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