Sunday, October 05, 2008

Heads-Up for Australian Aboriginal Tribal Art Collectors

If the Australian Parliament passes it, an Australian resale royalty plan for visual artists will become law, effective July 1 2009. The royalty (5%) will be payable on the sale of works of art sold through the secondary market. The requirement will apply to works acquired by the seller after the law takes effect.

If a seller sells an original artwork acquired prior to July 2009, a resale royalty will not be payable. Any work acquired by the seller after the effective date and sold on the secondary market will require the seller to pay the royalty. If a work is sold on the secondary market after the effective date and it was acquired by the seller prior to effective date, no resale royalty payment will be required.

This well-intended law will be enacted to protect the interests of artists, especially tribal artists, in their work after it reaches the secondary market. (Incidentally, we have been down the road of well intentions before and we know where it leads.) It is a reasonable concern that a work that is purchased from an artist for a low price, which is subsequently sold for a much higher price, deprives the artist of gains from his or her growing reputation, and places gain in the hands of the reseller.

As with all such efforts, has the Law of Unintended Consequences been considered? Will requiring a 5% royalty payable to the artist encourage resellers to buy less art directly from the artist, especially new, emerging artists? Will prices increase to cover the obligation of the royalty? Will the increase in cost to the reseller lead him/her to close due to insufficient net income? What then will happen to the market for the art of indigenous Australian Aboriginal artists?

Obviously, the Australian law may not be applicable anywhere else
. I believe they will not be able to require it from us, since we are located in the United States. Although work that Australians buy from us to have shipped back to Australia, will fall within the law if they purchase it after the effective date (scheduled for July 2009.)

Bottom line for the readers of this blog is the warning that it is better to buy Australian Aboriginal art now instead of post-July, 2009. Such purchases will be protected from the requirement to pay 5% when they sell the art to another party. We have several beautiful works by well known Australian Aboriginal artists for sale on our web site at With our US location, we can serve clients all over the world without royalty charges.

Incidentally, Australian Aboriginal Tribal art is growing in popularity in the US
, witness this article at And we at Aboriginals: Art of the First Person have just shipped several major pieces to a buyer in Europe.

Postpone your intended purchases at your peril.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an artist I am saddened to see the words:

"With our US location, we can serve clients all over the world without royalty charges"

This effectively means people and businesses are profiting from the intellectual property of artist's who and not receiving a benefit from the sale of the object/art they created while others do.

Would this not only serve to encourage artists to trade direct?