Royalties on Resold Paintings

The Australian artist Hazel Dooney has published an interesting post about the royalties that artist should or shouldn’t receive when their works are resold by collectors. She mentions a painting that she sold when she was just starting out for $300, which would be worth nearly $30,000 now.

Here’s what she says about it..
“Droit de suite negates the significance of the collector in an artist’s success. Every person who buys a work of art is supporting an artist at whatever point that artist happens to be in their career.”
“Everyone who supports an artist by buying their work, especially in the early, ‘risky’ stages of a career, deserves all of whatever eventual profit there might (or might not) be”. Hazel Dooney

I have to agree that we probably don’t deserve to be compensated for the life of a painting. I wouldn’t refuse royalties either :-P

To make it more interesting, I wonder if a collector can also be compensated for the losses they have suffered from investing in an artist’s career? A lot of young flash in the pan artists that are currently selling for impressive prices would have to start saving now.
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About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Art, the gift that keeps on giving? Unfortunately for the artist, not in royalties unless you’re a songwriter or musician. Perhaps we should compare distribution through the internet to distribution over the radio. Let’s see, for every person who views your art online, a small fee. That would have to be adclick art, right? It boggles the mind. As for profits on resold paintings, well, a deal is a deal. I think not.

  2. Should many artists roll over in their graves has their hardly existent bread money sales when they were living are being resold for millions…
    Well if it happens to me I am coming back as a ghost to claim what belongs to me…

  3. Well, I have had my estate sale, though I am still here to have seen it. Too bad all of the artists I had in the sale have preceded me into the cashless society in the sky. If I could have collected on my losses, which under U.S. tax laws I will have to live to about 175 to utilize in full, the artists involved, most of whom had fine reputations in their life times, would have been pauperized. My guess is that a collector whose entire collection of say 500 works, was purchased by him or her prior to the age of 40, and consisted of artists all of whom had had one person exhibitions in reputatable galleries or museums,who lived to their actuarily anticipated age,say 75, might have left his or her heirs who sell the estate in its entirety upon the collectors death, approximately 5-15% of the price paid for those works plus the necessary upkeep to preserve them.
    Furthermore, the successful, but not megasuccessful (Jasper Johns type)artist who leaves an estate of similar magnitude will have left very little of value and a good many headaches to boot if they don’t just cart the stuff to the local dump. Those my children are the facts those in the art world never tell you until you come to one of them in joyful anticipation of living on easy street with your inheritance. To, more or less, quote a leading member of the fraternity, if you do not have the many millions that Lee Krasner left to the Pollock (Krasner) Foundation, money she skillfully raised by being heart and soul devoted to her husband when he was alive and equally devoted to his memory when he wasn’t, in addition to being one tough cookie when it came to managing his estate before she died, you might as well give it away, if anyone will take it, and, if not, dump it. (The scandalous handling of the Rothko estate was unusual only for its size and the fact that the mismanagement was both blatant and provable.)Oh, that is not to say that a person who inherited just one picture might not, as happened to a friend of mine, find someone willing to pay 60,000 U.S. dollars for it, but that is like winning the lottery, someone always does, but not you. It is also possible you might find 8 Pollocks or even a Rembrandt in your garage. then the problem would be to find an expert of sufficient reputation who will swear in the face of all comers that it is really by Pollock or Rembrandt.

  4. There is also the issue of who collects the royalties and at what cost to the artist. In the UK it’s an outfit called DACS and they rake off 25%. So if the newly introduced Droit Suite ( french for rip off I think) raises a ¬£million a year they get to keep a quarter. I know bank charges are high but….

    No wonder then that DACS were the biggest campaigners for it’s introduction and did the rounds in the media saying how wonderful it would be for artists… and yet not once did they mention their cut!

  5. Yeah, it’s something that should be thought about before the reaper comes knocking.

    It must have been hard getting rid of a lot of your paintings Irv.

    Im probably more of an art hoarder rather and art collector, so taxes and or losses shouldnt be too much of an issue.


  6. I support the idea of artists receiving a percentage of secondary + market sales of their work after the initial purchase. It makes sense to sign an agreement between buywer and artist when the first sale happens. Ted Crawford has a boilderplate for that in his Business and Legal Forms for Fine Artists book/CD.


  7. Reading all these comments makes it even more clear that artists most often have no concept of business or how their meal is made. I agree exactly with the first comment about most artists’ work being utterly worthless over time, and those nice collectors who gave that artist what he was asking for the painting at that time, usually buying it because they liked it, with money they had earned themselves, should they not have that possibility to get lucky? The problem is that most artists have also succumbed to the celebrity dream of wealth and fame and aren’t so pure anymore… lose the self-importance, you are just painting paintings. Try saving the freaking world already. No painting ever did that, I can assure you.

    I am loving art dealers more and more, leave it to the artists and they’ll fuck everything up. Also, to compare music, (and the royalties) and visual arts as two of the same is comparing two entirely different worlds. Most musicians are ENTERTAINERS, brilliant or not, most visual artists do not set out to entertain anyone but themselves.

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