Artists to benefit from new resale right

Droit de suite becomes part of UK law

Artists in the UK are soon to receive the benefit of a droit de suite, or artists’ resale right, for the first time. The new law will require them to be given a percentage of the sale price when their work is resold by art dealers for more than EUR 1,000 (about £680).

Directive 2001/84/EC of 27 September 2001 is due to be implemented in UK law on 1 January 2006 as the Artists’ Resale Right Regulations 2006. This will place artists on an equal footing with other authors of copyright works such as composers, writers and performers, and with their contemporaries in the 11 Member States that already have such a law.

The unassignable and inalienable right will apply to all acts of resale subsequent to the first sale by the artist that involve art market professionals as sellers, buyers or intermediaries. It applies to original works of art that are protected by copyright on 1 January 2006, and will subsist for seventy years after the artist’s death. There will be an exception from the droit de suite where the seller acquired the work from the artist less than 3 years before the resale and where the resale price does not exceed EUR 10,000 (about £6,800), and the right will not apply to sales of works by deceased artists until 1 January 2010.

UK art dealers have expressed concerns that the new law may cause a downturn in business as it will force sale prices and administration costs to rise and sellers may prefer to operate from New York or Geneva, where there will remain no droit de suite.