UK Art Resale Right Blunder – artmarketblog.com
A press release from the UK Intellectual Property Office was posted on the 19th of December which informs people that the UK Government intends to extend the length of time that the resale right applies only to living artists and not to deceased artists. A letter was sent to the European Commission by John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, which outlines the reasons that the UK Government believes that extending the date that the resale right will become applicable to the work of deceased artists from 2010 to 2012 is the best option.
The most obvious argument that the Government has put forward is, as one would expect, that the introduction of the resale right for works sold by deceased artists would increase the financial burden on the UK art market. According to Denham’s letter, the current economic crisis would amplify the effects that increasing the number of works for which a resale royalty is applicable would have on the number of works being purchased. What Denham seems to have overlooked, however, is that by not introducing the resale right for deceased artists the UK Government is in fact promoting a situation where works by deceased artists are more appealing to dealers than works by living artists. Considering that the work of contemporary artists is more likely to suffer during a financial crisis, the added burden of having to compete with the works of deceased artists which to not attract a resale royalty is likely to become a much more significant factor.
The press release from the UK Intellectual Property Office quotes Denham as saying that “If the art traders are seeing a reduction in business they will not only sell fewer works- but will not buy them from artists either. This will have a knock on effect for artists who will find that there is less of a market for their work”. What this quote proves is that Denham really doesn’t understand the art market and is not cognisant of the implications that continuing to promote an unlevel playing field could have on the work of living artists. If Denham doesn’t realise that not introducing the resale right for deceased artists is likely to encourage dealers to favour works by deceased artists over living artists then he needs to do a bit more analysis of the situation.
A solution to all the problems outlined by the UK Government would be a compulsory world-wide resale right for both living and deceased artists. This would mean that the UK art market would not be seen as less attractive than the art markets of other countries that do not have the resale right as the UK government fears it will. It would also mean a level playing field for both living and deceased artists. The likelihood of a compulsory world-wide resale right being introduced in the near future is unfortunately very low.
You can view the press release from the UK IPO here:
and the letter from John Denham here:
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.
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