Wednesday 26 March 2014

Auction Houses already moving against ART Act

Since the American Royalties Too Act was introduced in the US Senate at the end of last month, it appears that Sotheby's and Christie's have already stepped up their lobbying efforts in Washington DC, with Sotheby’s sending lawyers to visit some lawmakers in the Capitol. Indeed, the New York Times notes that "Sotheby’s and Christie’s have spent about $1 million in the last couple of years to hire well-known legal and lobbying talent in Washington..."

In light of the failure of the earlier version of the bill (the Equity for Visual Artists Act), supporters of the ART Act have a tough fight ahead to get it through. However, Sotheby's and Christie's clearly do not want to take any chances.

The auction houses' arguments against a resale royalty are essentially the same as those that have been trotted out in other countries around the world against equivalent laws: that the royalty would damage the art market with little benefit to the majority of artists. However, while there may be artists who support the claim that they see little benefit from the right, there has still not been conclusive evidence to show that an artist's resale right has an negative effect on an art market.

It is still early days. Will it be best arguments or most money thrown at the issue that wins?

Source: The New York Times, 23 March 2014

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