Friday, August 15, 2008

Peanuts for them, gold for you

Before an artist is famous, he is a beginner.
And while he is a beginner he might be noticed by art-experts as someone who might become famous.
These art-experts, in some cases, trust their intuition and buy as many works from the beginning artist as they can.
This is like an investment.
Because the idea is of course to sell these works once the artist has become famous.

While a beginner, the artist has almost no choice.
He needs to live and wants to work, so when an art-dealer comes by and wants to buy 100 works for a $ 100 each, suddenly the artist has almost enough money to cover another year.
He will work like mad, deliver the 100 works, get the $ 10.000 and secure his near future as an artist and avoid having to become a taxi driver.

Next, 20 years later, the art-dealer thinks the moment has come.
The artist has become well known.
He had exhibitions in major museums and the work was published in books.
The artist has a high reputation now: his position in the history of art is established.
The works bought for a $ 100 each are offered to the art-market for prices from $ 10.000
That is a 500 % return on an annual base the art dealer is making on his investment.
The art-dealer has to wait 20 years but when successful, an investment of $ 10.000 returns a hefty 1 million Dollars.

In Europe these methods of doing business in the art-world are accepted also.
However, the European Union has decided that the artist should share in these enormous profits that can be made.
On September 27, 2001, an addition to the European copyright law was accepted called “the artist’s resale right”.
Law 2001/84/EG.
In most European countries this law is now effective and it means that in the case as described before the artist will get 4 % of the $ 10.000 his work is sold for.

The way it goes is that an artist joins an organization that takes care for the artist of his resale rights.
In each European country are such organisations like in the U.K.
The “Design and Artists Copyright Society”.
In the Netherlands it is “Pictoright”.

They are successful: “Design and Artists Copyright Society” collected since February 2006 over 12 million $ in resale royalties for over 1500 artists.

There is no “artist’s resale right” in the USA.
All the money goes to the art-dealer.

If an art-dealer can make a profit of $ 9.900 on an investment of a $ 100, what the hell is a meagre $ 400?
What is the difference between making $ 9.900 or $ 9.500?

But for the artist this $ 400 is important.
First of all as recognition of his talent, his devotion, his insistence, his passion and his choices in life.
Second, the money helps the artist to live and possibly to make more new work that will be a valuable addition to the history of art.

But in many cases recognition of an artist comes very late in his life.
Usually the artist has no savings or a pension because this was impossible to finance when selling the works for $ 100.
All the money went to food, brushes and paint.
Without savings or a pension, he could live his old days in poverty and misery while his works sell for incredible prices.
Art-dealers making fortunes while the artist can’t live decently his older days.

There is much to say for this “Artist’s resale right”.
To have it as a law in the USA as well.
It is peanuts for the sellers while gold for the artists.


To learn more about
the “Design and Artists Copyright Society” and "Pictoright", click on:


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