Tuesday 4 May 2010

Buy now, pay later

The lawsuit Miami collector Craig Robins has brought against New York art dealer David Zwirner over access (or lack thereof) to works by Marlene Dumas has caused a mini blizzard of coverage in American publications (see the Art Newspaper, the New York Times.)

From the NYT:

Mr. Robins asserts that he sold a painting of a dark figure by the highly praised South African-born artist Marlene Dumas through the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea in 2004 with an agreement that the sale remain confidential. But the gallery, which did not yet represent Ms. Dumas, told her about it, Mr. Robins claims, causing her to become angry with him because, like many artists, she prefers to see her paintings remain long term in prominent collections.

Mr. Robins says that Ms. Dumas — one of whose paintings sold for more than $6 million at Sotheby’s in 2008 — maintains an active blacklist of those she views as speculating in her work, a blacklist that, he says, he is now on (and whose existence his lawyers, who were back in court on the case this week, say they plan to prove).

Edward Winkleman suggests that one way of introducing more transparency to the art market would be to bring in droit de suite, or artist resale rights, a scheme under which artists and (and then their estates) continue to receive a percentage of every resale of one of their works up to a certain number of years after their death.

On June 9 Australia goes live with its own resale rights scehem. According to the Sydney Morning Herald not everyone is happy with the scheme or how it's been implemented:

Even supporters of the resale royalty are critical of its implementation. Gallery owner Michael Reid said the scheme would be a costly administrative burden for commercial galleries and dealers.

"Why should I be expected to undertake this time and paper burden for nothing? The absence of any details as to how the scheme will work screams volumes as to arts policy incompetency," Mr Reid said.

Artist resale rights were debated here in New Zealand under the previous Labour government, but the issue seems to have gone cold. The National government's focus has shifted instead to philanthropy, with the recent release of the Cultural Organisations: Giving and Sponsorship Research Report and the creation of the Ministerial Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce (Peter Biggs, Margaret Belich, Carolyn Henwood, James S Hill, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Dayle Mace), which is looking at possible incentives to encourage private individuals to give more dosh to the arts.

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