Whether reading an auction catalogue an art magazine or by discussing with an artist, your attention has been drawn by these three words "resale right" forming an enigmatic expression for the uninitiated.
Before going further, let's say it is a tax on the resale of a work of art that is paid to the artist.
Let us have a look on the history of the resale right, its rate and its beneficiaries.
Established in France in 1920, the legend tells that it was put in place after the sale of a painting by Jean-François Millet, The Angelus executed in 1858 for a huge sum in respect of the purchase price despite that the family the painter lived in poverty. Like all legends, it must have its truth and so France was the first country to organize the subsistence of its artists, knowing the glory only late and could not enjoy the benefits of their genius.
Type of art
The resale right applies to "original works of graphic or plastic created by the author himself, such as pictures, collages, paintings, drawings, engravings, prints, lithographs, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics, glassware, photographs and audiovisual creations of plastic or digital. "
It should be emphasized that the prints are excluded if posthumously executed even if they are limited in number and they were made under the supervision of the beneficiaries of the artist.
The tax levied on the resale of a work of art, at auction, or in a gallery is donated to the artist or his family for 70 years after the death of the artist.
It applies to all artists in the European Union and the countries with similar rules.
In France, the right is paid by the seller as a work considered as a sell profit sharing. In contrast, in the UK, it is paid by the buyer and catalogues focus on lots possibly subject to avoid any misunderstanding when purchasing a modern painting at auction for example.
- 4% to €50 000
- 3% from €50 001 to €200 000
- 1% from €200 001 to €350 000
- 0.5% from €350 001 to €500 000
- 0.25% in excess of €500 001
It should be noted that the rates are decreasing and the amount charged for a single work may not exceed €12 500. It seems that the old version with a single rate with no cap made the fortune of a few families.
Worthy in its goals, resale right, today applied throughout the European Union, it is the origin of many distortions of competition and the U.S. do not apply it and the choice of the United Kingdom to collect the tax from the buyer incentive French sellers to choose London or New York to Parispreferably to sell works of modern or contemporary art.
Cédric Henon, fine art specialist