Art Law

VAGA Will Lobby for Federal Resale Royalties Bill

As Chuck Close and a group of other artists wage a legal battle against Sotheby’s and Christie’s, alleging that the houses owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars under a California resale royalties law, the Visual Artists and Galleries Association (VAGA), a nonprofit group that defends the intellectual property of its more than 6,000 international artists, is lobbying for the passage of a federal royalties law that might resolve the issue for future resales. Read More

Resale Royalties

The California Resale Royalties Law: a Primer

Chuch Close. (Courtesy Getty Images)

“I’ve been working my ass off for you to make that profit?” the artist Robert Rauschenberg said to collector Robert Scull in 1973 as he shoved him after an auction at Sotheby Parke Bernet, at which Mr. Scull sold a number of contemporary artworks for sums far exceeding what he had initially paid. The artists who had produced the works, of course, received nothing.

Three years later, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Resale Royalties Act, which required people selling art to pay five percent of the sales price to the artist, if certain requirements were met. Today, the law is not frequently enforced, and, based on interviews with art market players, not completely understood. However, the law has been thrust into the news of late thanks to two lawsuits. Read More