Study Finds Artist Resale Rights Depressing UK Market




New figures show sales decreasing in the UK but growing globally; Britain’s status as a centre for the international art market is under threat from New York and other overseas locations. Sales of fine art and antiques in the UK dropped by 3 percent to £8 billion in 2013, juxtaposed with a growth in worldwide sales of 10 percent – according to a report by Arts Economics, a research group. It now seems that the rights to resale royalties of UK artists may be effecting the market.

The principle of paying resale royalties to artists when their work changes hands has been a highly contentious issue in the art world for many years; and appears here to stay. Now, a new study, which has been commissioned by the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) which represents UK dealers, found that resale rights are one of the reasons why UK sales of fine art and antiques fell by 3 percent – according to a report in the Financial Times. BAMF commissioned the study from the research group Arts Economics; headed by Clare McAndrew.

“Postwar and contemporary art is shifting to New York. If you look at the US, sales have gone way beyond boom era levels. Since 2010 they haven’t grown in the UK at all, they’ve dropped.” Stated Clare McAndrew, director of Arts Economics.

The Artist Resale Right (ARR), which is also called “droit de suite” was introduced across Europe in 2006. In the UK, the rights initially applied only to living artists but starting in 2012 it was also applied to artists’ heirs for up to 70 years after their death.

chairman of the British Art Market Federation, Anthony Browne, said the introduction of resale rights in London “when it does not apply to London’s major global competitors…is now causing a decline in the UK’s international competitive position.” But added that he did not consider the right the sole cause of the decline.

US and Asian markets do not apply resale rights, although there has been some litigation contentious debate surrounding a California resale rights law that is almost never applied or observed.


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