Artists’ resale rights – ‘Droit de Suite’ Debate Heats Up

Posted January 12th, 2012

Art Market, Auctions, Business

Experts say expanded law will harm U.K. market.

“On both sides of the Atlantic, the issue of artists’ resale rights has jumped to the fore”, Art News reports. “As of the start of 2012, the U.K., which adopted a resale royalty law for living artists in 2006, expanded that law so that it now applies to artists deceased 70 years or less. Dealers and auctioneers are going to be closely watching its effect on sales in the year ahead, particularly since the new application will apply to far more sales which are also likely to be of higher average value. The implementation of the resale royalty was staggered in order to allow the art market to adjust to the new requirement.

Jussi Pylkkänen, president of Christie’s Europe, called the “extension of the artists’ resale right to deceased European artists” in 2012 “a matter of real concern. It will affect the modern art market, which is a key aspect of Christie’s activities in London.”

According to a 2010 market report commissioned by the organizers of the annual art fair TEFAF in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew: “an EU art tax, due to be extended in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands and Austria next year, risks further damaging an already weakened European art and antiques market by encouraging vendors to sell elsewhere.”

The British law sets a minimum sale price above which the resale royalty comes into play at €1,000, and royalties are set on a sliding scale at rates of: four percent for profits up to €50,000; three percent for profits from €50,000.01/200,000; one percent for profits from €200,000.01/350,000; one-half of one percent for profits from €350,000/500,000.01; and one-quarter of one percent for profits exceeding €500,000.01. The single maximum payment for any one sale is set at €12,000.

The London-based Design and Artists Copyright Society, one of the two main nonprofit agencies collecting and distributing resale royalties, estimates that artists there have been paid £15.5 million since 2006. When sales of famous deceased artists are added to the mix, the value and volume of royalties are expected to increase fourfold, perhaps more, experts said.

A 2010 report on artists’ resale royalties, commissioned by the European Art Market Coalition, found that in continental Europe, 74 percent of all the royalties collected went to artists’ heirs, 20 percent went to the collecting agencies and only six percent went to living artists. Helping older artists may be the intended goal, but critics claim the practice has largely benefited the heirs of already successful artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse.”

Read on at Art News.