Though many of the negative phenomena described by Servais are indeed bad, the "model contracts" solution is not at all tantamount to "regulation." I recently did a story in which I interviewed Servais alongside some other market commentators and experts, and the realities of regulation are much more elusive. For example, @Corinna, the NY tax crackdown is not new, it happens every few years, and it doesn't seem to have changed a whole lot. Furthermore, what would a federal regulatory regime look like? One attorney I spoke with for my story on regulation was skeptical:
“Perhaps what [Roubini] is calling for is greater regulatory oversight of the art market itself — so, for example, an administrative agency that will be tasked with overseeing transfers of art — but with other Congressional priorities that may be a stretch right now,” he said. “It seems to me that the art market for the time being is going to continue to be either self-regulated or governed by laws that already exist, for example tort or contract laws that already play into the typical sale between an auction house and a purchaser and a dealer or a collector.”
Any discussion of "regulating the art market" needs to be very specific about what the issue is, because in many cases the problem, it seems, is under-enforcement of existing laws (i.e. taxes), which is systemic rather than art-specific.