The Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) entitles artists who have produced an original work of art to a royalty (payment) each time their art is re-sold through an art market professional or auction house. The right applies until 70 years after the artist's death and sales between private individuals or to public, non-profit making museums do not attract royalty payments.
ARR originates from the droit de suite, a resale right first introduced in Europe around 1893, which has been in force since 1920 in France to protect the welfare of artists and their families. It ensures artists and their heirs receive a share of the increasing commercial value of their work. This right was incorporated into the Berne Convention in 1971, an international copyright agreement for the protection of literary and artistic works. However, the right is currently optional, meaning countries with substantial art markets including the USA, China and Switzerland, have no such right.
ARR came into force in the UK in 2006 as a result of an EU directive. The directive sought to harmonise the position across Europe and ensure that all qualifying sales within the EU were subject to ARR. The right only applies when the sale price reaches or exceeds the sterling equivalent of €1,000. The royalty is calculated as a percentage of the sale price up to 4% and subject to a cap. If the art is re-sold 3 years after a direct sale from the artist for €10,000 or less the artist receives no royalty payment.
ARR is a right implemented by the EU, and Brexit means that the UK can relax or even remove the right. Many are rightfully worried about the effect this will have on the welfare of artists and their families. Galleries, art traders and artists are finding it impossible to make suitable preparations without knowing exactly how they may be affected and with delays to Brexit, its effects on ARR remains to be seen.