Tax-Free ‘Secret Museums’ Hide Some of the World’s Greatest Art

May 24, 2019, 8:46 AM

The oldest is larger than nine football fields and was used to distribute Red Cross parcels to prisoners of war across Europe during World War II. The newest demands a retina scan for entry. These are free ports: tax-free, high-tech storage facilities where top art collectors and nervous tycoons can park their valuables for decades. Artist Hito Steyerl has called them “secret museums.”

Seated Man With a Cane
Source: The History Collection/Alamy; Photo illustration: 731

Some free ports are located near Geneva and the other historic playgrounds of monied Europe. Some have sprung up in Singapore and other Asian hubs, to serve more recently minted fortunes. The U.S. is a relative ...

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