Artists, please collect your checks…

Many visual artists,  as well as art buyers and sellers, are unaware that a California law requires a 5% payment to the artist of the work upon the resale of artwork.  The statute that requires this payment is based upon a branch of moral rights law that may be referred to as droit de suite.  Similar art resale rights exist in several European countries as well.  

The California law is imperfect, but it is apparently working to some degree.   A recent WSJ article focuses on the state employee, Patty Milich, who’s task it is to track down artists who are owed such payments.  

The list of artists owed payments in California seems fairly small considering the amount of artwork that has probably been (re) sold in the state.  This may indicate that the sellers are doing a good job at tracking down artists and paying them, or alternatively that there is a widespread avoidance or ignorance of the law.  (The seller is suppose to try and locate the artist before using the alternative method of sending the payment to the state Arts Council).  Regardless, it seems like some type of artists registry would be helpful in the administration of this law, but one apparently does not exist–yet.  

The resale rights potentially effect any U.S. artist who’s artwork may be sold in California at some point in time.  Artists must be either U.S. citizens or California residents to qualify for the resale right.  Eligible artworks include those that are resold for more than $1000.  There are certain other restrictions as well, including limitations on the type of art media.

My critique of the law is available on ArtUntitled, along with a text excerpt of the relevant California statute.

California Arts Council’s list of artists who are currently owed payments in California:  www.cac.ca.gov/resaleroyaltyact/resaleroyaltyactlist.php

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