It is hard not to feel conflicted over the concept of royalties in art. Musicians enjoy it, so how are visual arts different? This question is the ground for increasing support for Droit de Suite for visual artists and their heirs. Support for Droit de Suite is as strong as its opposition. A recent recap of declining art sales in the UK by artnet news sites the Financial Times and British Art Market Federation's (BAMF) caution at the harm of Droit de Suite. The report credits the practice as contributing to a 3% decline in UK sales; global markets, in contrast, enjoyed a 10% increase in 2013.
The Droit de Suite was introduced to Europe in 2006, so the regional market was level until 2012 when the UK began applying the regulation to artists after death. Heirs of artists can inherit the funds for up to 70 years after the death of the artist. While this may seem drawn and staggering, the actual figures seem to be comparatively small with a rate of 4% for works up to €50,000 and decreasing as hammer price increases (see Sotheby's rates below for figures). This could, and arguably has, sent sellers and buyers to other markets, but in a world where the upper echelons are already the only ones who can afford to do the trading, all this promises to do is add another notch to the belts of those who can afford the little extra or survive the slimmer margins. Collectors still desire; dealers still serve.
Recap in artnet news
Royalty Rates according to Sothebys
Related story: California Resale Act in question: the Ninth Circuit Court scheduled to Review the Act before full Court. Oral argument scheduled to begin the week of December 15th. Learn more on the forthcoming Review in the Art Law Report.