droit de suite

What is the Artist's Resale Right?

The artist's resale right an “inalienable” right granted, in some jurisdictions,  to artists or their heirs to receive a compensation on the resale of their works of art. This right is often known by its French name droit de suite.

The directive 2001/84/EC of the European Parliament creates a right under European Union law for artists to receive royalties on their works when these are resold.  Member States may set a minimum sale price below which the artist's resale right will not apply: this threshold may not be more than 3,000 euros or 10,000 euros where the seller acquired the work of art directly from the artist less than three years before the resale.

The Artist’s Resale Right applies to the sale of artworks in the European Economic Area (EEA).  Artists who are nationals of these countries are therefore generally eligible to receive resale royalties.

Eleven European Union countries currently recognize “droit de suite” in their legislation. United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands being still an exception. Of the eleven countries which recognize this right, only eight actually do collect the royalty.

The law applies to all “works of graphic and plastic arts”. Works of art must be original and the criteria for the original status of engravings, prints and lithographs are defined in agreements between the authors’ societies and auctioneers.

In Italy this right is granted to artists and their heirs for seventy years after his death on the occasion of transactions of works of art or manuscripts in which intervenes a professional art market. In particular, are subject to “droit de suite” all acts of resale, if they involve vendors, buyers or intermediaries represented by art market professionals, such as salesrooms, art galleries and art dealers in general, with the exception of sales between private individuals. The sales must be reported, by the professional acted as the seller or buyer broker, by declaration to the SIAE, within the period of ninety days from the sale. , the submission of the sale proceeds and compensation for all subsequent sales, are entirely charged to the seller.

The organization in charge of collecting the right below on behalf of all the artists is the SIAE, which currently governs the rights of authors affiliated companies, in which the royalty is already in force.

The compensation is calculated on the sale price, net of tax, on a percentage basis differentiated in relation to the different echelons, are calculated as follows:

•4% for the portion of the sale price up to  50,000.00 euros; (*)

•3% for the portion of the sale price of between 50,000.01 and 200,000.00 euros;

•1% for the portion of the sale price of between 200,000.01 and 350,000.00 euros;

•0.5% for the portion of the sale price of between 350.000,01 and 500,000.00 euros;

•0.25% for the portion of the sale price exceeding 500,000.00 euros.

The total amount of compensation cannot be still greater than 12,500.00 euros.

The SIAE, appointed in Italy to collect payments on the resale right for the artists, published in the Official Gazette a large list of authors whose works have been the subject of a sale which led to the maturation of the resale right, for which, however, has not yet been claimed that right. The gap between the real amount of droit de suite percentage on the sales and the amounts duly paid to the artists and their heirs shows how difficult is to effectively implement this European principle. 

By Francesca Filipo