16 May 2006

Artists lose again on resale royalties

One feature of last weeks’ federal budget that has not received much publicity is the Commonwealth welching on its long-held promise to legislate for artists’ resale royalty rights.

A resale royalty, also called a droit de suite, entitles an artist to a royalty payment when a work of art is resold at auction, or by an agent or private gallery. At the moment, if a work sells for a second time for more than its original price, the artist gets zip. Unlike in France, where they have had a resale royalty scheme for artists since 1920. Not that cultural backwater, I hear you say!

This hits indigenous artists very hard. Many are kept in penury by wealthy white art dealers who might pay them a meagre sum for the original work and then onsell it for a tidy margin, leaving the artist with nothing other than what they were able to weadle out of the original deal. Recent cases where indigenous artworks have sold for astronomical prices at auction have passed into art industry folklore, as have stories of some our most august and accomplished artists living or dying in poverty in Turkey Creek or Utopia or somewhere out of Alice Springs.

Johnny Warangula Tjapurrula’s ‘Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa’ originally sold for $150 - but went on to fetch $486,500 at a Sotheby's auction in July 2000.

We remember that it was government-appointed Rupert Myer who recommended the introduction of a resale royalty bill in his report into the visual arts and crafts back in June 2002. Obviously we’re still waiting.

The Government has apparently thrown away the pretence of examining re-sale royalties and caved in under pressure from Liberal Party heavyweight Michael Kroger acting on behalf of auction houses.

1 comment:

I am the Queen of F*%&ING EVERYTHNG...OK!! said...

And people voted for this Govt why???? What representation does any one seem to have from them??? This is why I have a limited copyright on my stuff.