Summary: With the EU Council of Ministers due to agree its common position before the end of the year regarding the proposal for a Directive harmonising artists' resale rights across the European Union, associations representing creative artists are seeking to mobilise support for this legislative project. They denounce existing competitive distortions which prevent artists from enjoying a share in the economic success of their work.

Resale rights enable artists producing works of graphic and fine art (and their direct heirs) to claim a percentage of the price for which items are sold on through public auction or by commercial agents. Artists attended in force a conference staged in Brussels on November 13 by representatives of GESAC (Groupement europen des Societes d'auteurs et compositeurs) and the EVA (European Visual Artists) to denounce the shortcomings of the present system. They highlighted the fact that four European Countries (Austria, then United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands) persist in not recognising resale rights, a situation that results in the relocation of art markets: works of art tend to be sold in countries where resale rights are not enforced. The large auction houses (Sotheby's, Christie's) have outlets in all the Member States but sell a majority of works in the United Kingdom. If a canvas is sold for ECU 100,000 in London, the painter receives not a penny. If, however, it is sold in Cologne, the artist receives ECU 5,000, even if he is British, Irish, Dutch or Austrian. Over the years, artists have been deprived of their rightful share in the economic success of their work. Works of art are generally sold for a low price by artists at the beginning of their careers who, once they have achieved notoriety...

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