The French Government of 1889, was so convinced that there was something not right about the Secretan sale, that they introduced Droit de Suite (Resale Royalties Legislation), giving artists an automatic Legal right to receive a royalty each time their work is resold.
And, following Robert Rauschenburg’s efforts to redress the indignation he felt as a result of the Scull sale, the State of California followed France’s lead by introducing the California Resale Royalty Act in 1976.
This is good news / bad news. The good news is that, as of 2012, over 60 countries around the world recognise a problem whose effects are most profoundly felt within the sphere of Fine Art. The bad news is that when you examine the results, it becomes clear that Legislation is not an effective solution. This from a New York Times article of November 2011; ‘In the 34 years that the California law has been in effect, about 400 artists have received a total of $328,000. Most artists and galleries either don’t know about the law or ignore it. Sellers generally dislike the idea, which they view as an added tax. They contend that the law’s main beneficiaries are artists whose work is already famous enough to sell again and again.’
In fact, the more you delve, the more Resale Royalties Legislation looks like an appeasement of the sentiment which brought about its creation. One just has to imagine what would happen to the London Art Market if the UK government increased Royalties from the sub 5% rates that most participating countries apply. Perhaps it would relocate to New Zealand where the government declined to introduce Resale Royalties Legislation in 2008…?
In Part 3… 1970’s New York – Seth Siegelaub and Bob Provjansky publish their solution to the Latency Problem; a contract for Artists to use when they sell their work. But will it take off?