Friday, November 16, 2007

Droit de Suite

A meeting last night in Buswell's Hotel to discuss the current state of this newly enfroced law. Salient points:

- Robert Ballagh set the scene by recounting the sad story of Madge Campbell - the poor old widow of George. She died in very straitened circumstances while his work sold for thousands at auction.
- There was a general consensus that the law on droit de suite was rushed in and poorly drafted leading to many anomalies. It was brought in hastily to prempt Ballagh's High Court case.
- Very few artists actually benefit: le Brocquy get about 35% of the total (which is around €350K so far in 2007).
- Whytes impose the levy on the purchaser although the law says the vendor should pay.
- Ian Whyte makes the point that in a buyer's market it would kill the business if the vendor were hit. He is also following Sotheby's practise.
- Whytes are holding the money in a special account and not actually paying it out becaause the law is too vague he claims.
- Ballagh took exception to this strategy saying that it could take many years before the law is revisited and that its not that vague.
- The payment to the estates of dead artists is derogated until 2012 - Whytes said the auctioneers would fight this to prevent it happening at all.
- In Ireland there is no official collection mechanism - IVARO is looking to be the de facto agency (le Brocquy is a member). Ian Whyte said he would support their role.
- In England this levy only applies again after 3 years have elapsed - in Ireland this is not covered so in theory there could be a droit de suite liability 3 or 4 times in a few years - this will impact the dealers.