The Cuban Art Revolution

The Cuban Art Revolution

Collectors are betting the next hot art hub will be an island that most Americans still can’t visit.  Now with a new Cuban president in power and some hope emerging for looser travel and trade, investors are moving quickly to enter the market.  Some are getting into Cuba on humanitarian missions and scouting art while there.  The collectors are taking advantage of an exception to the U.S. trade embargo, in place since 1959.  It is legal for americans to buy Cuban art.  Unlike cigars or rum which are considered commercial products, the U.S. government classifies artworks as cultural assets and Americans can bring them into the U.S.  Getting into Cuba to buy the art is a trickier proposition.  Since we were there on a cultural exchange visa, we purchased a few minor works after being  instructed that we were to declare them at the airport and pay for an export stamp on each painting.  Fearing the worst we only purchased a few and were prepared to pay.  We declared the paintings which were then photographed.  Then we were sent to a window to purchase a stamp to be placed on the painting.  Fortunately the stamp only cost 3 CUC’s.  The stamp was then affixed to the back of the painting.  We wished we had purchased more.