An employee poses with an artwork by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, entitled "Femme nue assise, 1965", with an estimated price of 9.5-12.5 million GBP (11-15 million EUR; 12-15.5 million USD), during a photocall ahead of the Impressionist & Modern, Surrealist and Contemporary Art sale at Sotheby's in London, on February 22, 2017.

An employee poses with an artwork by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, entitled "Femme nue assise, 1965", with an estimated price of 9.5-12.5 million GBP (11-15 million EUR; 12-15.5 million USD), during a photocall ahead of the Impressionist & Modern, Surrealist and Contemporary Art sale at Sotheby's in London, on February 22, 2017.

The world art trade generates about $30 billion a year. And more than half of all art sales are private and often secret. But the release of the Panama Papers — more than 11 million documents leaked from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — enabled journalists to peek behind the curtain of this secretive world.

What they found were masterpieces held in warehouses, never to be seen by the public … dealers with deep pockets who use the market to move billions … and a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek.

Jake Bernstein was one of the 300 journalists who dug through the Panama Papers. In those documents, he discovered many of the biggest names in the art business, including the family who owns the largest single collection of Picassos in private hands. Bernstein’s latest book is called Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite.

How does art help the super-rich stay rich?

Guests

  • Jake Bernstein Two-time Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of "Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite"; former senior reporter, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Panama Papers project; @jake_bernstein
  • Donald Thompson Economist, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada; author: "The Orange Balloon Dog: Bubbles, Turmoil and Avarice in the Contemporary Art Market"; "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art"

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