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UK Introduces Droit de Suite Artist's Resale Tax

Tuesday 03rd January 2012

While many of us celebrated the arrival of 2012, art dealers and auction houses across the UK may have been dreading the arrival of the stroke of midnight, as the EU Droit de Suite Artist's Resale rights came into effect in Britain. 
 
At the beginning of 2011, the UK held a strong second place in the secondary market for modern and contemporary art, after the United States. Over the course of 2011, however, the UK has fallen into third place behind China. Now there is the worry that the UK market will suffer even more due to this new legislation. 
 
The Droit de Suite Artist's Resale tax ensures that artists, or heirs of artists who have died within the last 70 years, are entitled to a share in the resale of that artists work.  To auction houses and art dealers, this means that they will be required to pay up to 4% of any sale over £840 to the heirs or estate of an artist.  Furthermore, at auction, any lots that fall under the tax will require the successful bidder to pay and equal amount to the resale royalty (something that the auction houses have brought into effect as part of the tax). That means that top bidders could see fees up to the maximum of €12,500 added to their bill. 
 
The biggest worry for auction houses and dealers is that works of art will be taken to rivals in American, China or European Countries that have not implemented the Droit de Suite. 
 
While dealers and auction houses worry about the repercussions of the introduction of this tax, many in the art world are also celebrating the fact that the tax ensures that artists are able to retain a stake in their own work, just as copyright law ensures for authors or composers. 
 
While the big names of the art world like Hirst and Emin are sure to benefit from the tax, there is, however, the worry that younger and emerging artists will find the tax detrimental, as collectors may think twice before making a more risky purchase on which they have to pay an additional tax. The purchase becomes equally risky because, if they were to sell an emerging artist at auction, they would be liable for up to 4% commission to the artists. Meaning that both buying and selling the work would see them pay a premium. 
 
The tax will certainly see changes in how artists and artworks are dealt with in the UK, and only time will tell as to who will really benefit from the Artist's Resale Tax.
 

Posted on January 03rd 2012 on 12:10pm

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