Friday, December 18, 2009

Australian government to implement Resale Royalty Rights for visual artists.

(William & Susanne Waites, proprietors of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, report on news and events influencing the tribal art market.)

In legislation passed this November, the Australian Parliament has created a law that will require payment of a royalty of 5% of the resale price of a work of art to the artist, if still living, or to the artist's estate for seventy years following the artist's death.

There are conditions, but profitability is not one of them. If a gallery (or private owner, one presumes) sells the art for less than was paid for it, a 5% royalty still must be paid. At this point, the royalty is only payable on a sale exceeding $1,000.

We have commented earlier, when this law was being vetted, our concern that the unintended consequences of the law will be more damaging than the benefits, if any.

For example, if a gallery is required to pay 5% of the sale price of work that they may lose money on, how eager will they be to purchase art by unknown or emerging artists? Will this stunt the market for those without establish reputations?

Will the market see and automatic increase in pricing of more than 5% to cover the cost of the royalty? Will this also have a depressing effect on the art market?

Will this external market control, as with many well-intended moves, end up doing damage to the interests of the artists it seeks to protect?

Fortunately, all of the Australian Aboriginal works in our inventory at
are exempt until they are sold in the Australian market a second time.

You could consider it a 5% discount.

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