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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

An art auction at Sotheby's



Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 38. The Case of Resale Royalties, Part 2

One would think that if the renowned and well-respected Newfoundland artist Mary Pratt, as well as CARFAC (the Canadian Artists’ Representation), publicly supports the creation of a resale royalty, then it’s probably a good idea whose time is long overdue.

In fact, CARFAC has been lobbying members of parliament and officials for years to introduce such a system. The resale royalty, currently under pre-budget proposal by the federal government, would stipulate that a 5% royalty of the sale price of an artwork be returned to the artist. Theoretically, perhaps because it appeals to a humanist tradition founded on “doing the right thing,” this scheme would alleviate some of the tensions that exist between art, artists and commerce in the art kingdom.

In a recent Art in America article entitled “Art and Commerce,” writer Douglas Dreishpoon quotes Matthew Marks, a well-known American dealer and proprietor of galleries in New York and Los Angeles, as proclaiming that he does not believe in the Resale Royalty Act “because the only people who benefitted from it are already successful artists or their estates.” Marks goes on to suggest that the resale royalty “does not help those artists who could actually use the money, whose work has no resale market.”

Marks is making an important distinction here between a primary and a secondary (that is, resale) market, and between the types of buyers in those markets, each type purchasing artwork for completely different reasons.

By using the term “successful” in describing artists, Marks appears to mean those artists who have developed a primary market for their work – usually achieved through gallery representation – and, by default, a secondary market, too. The secondary market buyer usually makes investment decision purchases based on the reputation and credibility of the artist, which have been developed to some extent through a history of gallery sales. Thus, the dealer is partly responsible for creating both a primary and a secondary market for an artist’s work and, ultimately, for creating society’s recognition of the artist as “successful.” In this sense, then, it seems that “successful” can sometimes mean an artist who is an income-generating unit managed by the dealer. Mary Pratt, as a successful Canadian artist, would be a case in point. She is one who would benefit from a resale royalty because of her reputation. Her work has a resale market.

However, I don’t believe that those not-so-successful artist members of CARFAC would gain the same benefit offered by such a royalty. The primary market for consumer art generally consists of people who buy because they like what they see: their decisions to purchase are aesthetically or intellectually based. These purchases are not usually dealer-advised investments. And, true, the large majority of work bought by the art-buying public is by lesser-known artists. Yet, those artists are the ones who, by Marks’s definition, are not totally successful. They’re the ones the resale royalty should benefit, but who, because of their lack of wide recognition, do not have multiple resales of their artwork and therefore would not see any royalty benefit.

Secondary market sales of their work are almost non-existent, partly because of their perceived lack of investment potential.

And so it goes …

Next: The Case of Nano-D Technology

 Mon, Sep 9, 2013