Issue #100  1/8/2006
U.K. Caves Into Droit De Suite Endangering London Contemporary Art Market

As the E-Photo Newsletter reported two issues ago, the Droit de Suite (a commission paid to the artists and their estate on each and every resale of their work) is now in place in all of Europe, including the United Kingdom, which had been fighting to limit its provisions. Its provisions immediately effect all galleries, dealers and auction houses selling living artists whose work resells at €1,000 or more.

The Telegraph Group recently reported that the U.K. government published details of how droit de suite will be implemented and announced that the threshold for the levy would be reduced to €1,000 (£680). Although there was no pressure to do so from the European Union, apparently the Labour government abandoned--without a fight--a concession that it had spent years negotiating.

"By doing so," said the Telegraph, " it made all but the very cheapest contemporary works subject to the levy and inflicted even more paperwork on dealers and auction houses without creating a substantial extra windfall for artists."

The Telegraph's online columnist, Will Bennett, continued, "What is clear is that the battle over droit de suite has been lost. We are more likely to see pigs flying over London than to get the second part of the levy, payments to descendants of dead artists, postponed or scrapped. Welcome to the wonderful world of European harmonisation."