Gallery Associations call on EU to act to save the market for modern and contemporary art


by the Federation of European Art Gallery Associations

At the annual meeting of the Federation of European Art Gallery Associations in Basel 17 June 2010, discussions focused on the serious threat posed to Europe’s art markets by the implementation of the EU’s Droit de Suite Directive (Artists Resale Right).
The Directive requires gallery owners involved in the sale of contemporary art works, to pay a levy each time such a work is sold. This levy, which is not applied in other jurisdictions around the world, risks seriously damaging the art market in Europe and driving this important cultural sector out of the continent.
Several countries, including the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria and Malta, are allowed to exempt works by deceased artists from this levy, which has limited the negative effect in these countries. However, with the derogation set to expire on 1 January 2012, concern is growing about the impact on art sales in Europe.
The EU was required by the law to undertake a study on the impacts of the Directive by 1 January 2009 and to revise the Directive if it was not found to be functioning correctly, however even in 2010 no study has yet been produced. Unless the EU acts now, Europe will continue to lose out to countries such as the US, Switzerland and China as a centre for the sale of 20th century art. And once this important market is lost, it will take many decades to recover.
FEAGA is therefore calling on the European Commission to:

  • Begin work on the study, as legally required by the Directive
  • Extend the derogation for works by deceased artists in time and to other Members States to ensure that Europe can remain competitive

Information to editors:
FEAGA is a federation of art trade associations representing leading promotion galleries in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Spain, Slovakia and Greece.
The EU Directive on Droit de Suite, which provides for the payment of a resale right where works of contemporary art are sold on, was adopted in 2001. This resale right applies to works by living artists and to work by deceased artists up to 70 years after their death. Five countries were allowed to apply a derogation to work by deceased artists, which will expire in 2012. Although the Directive also promised international negotiations with a view to introducing the same rights in 3rd countries, these have not taken place and no such regime exists in other key markets.

Adriaan Raemdonck, President

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