This article signals an exciting time for current artists. A bill is currently up for review in the U.S. Congress “that would bring droit de suite, also known as artist resale royalty rights”. In the past, only the purchaser of the artwork would benefit when the value of that piece increased and how does that seem fair? The bill under consideration would give “visual artists 5% of the resale price if their work resells at auction for more than $5,000″. This would prevent people from buying works for dirt cheap and then selling it for thousands once the market changes for whatever reason and people come to appreciate a particular artist or style. Royalties would be capped at $35,000 but this would still be a drastic improvement from what the current system allocates the artists behind the works.
Like any bill there are those who strongly oppose the act, suggesting that it would hinder auction houses and, ultimately, the art industry as a whole. The bill has a long way to go and a lot to consider when discussing artist royalties. The New York Times considers the bill explaining that, “sellers, museums and auction houses have generally opposed resale royalties, which they view as an added tax that raises the cost of doing business and, in the long run, would dampen prices”. The bill is pushing for fairness for artists but there are other players in the mix to consider as well.
One question we’re left with is what happens if an artist is no longer with us? Would the royalties go to the families? We can only wait and see what happens on Capitol Hill.