Artists sue Christie’s and Sotheby’s over resale rights Los Angeles

October 21, 2011

Artists Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill and the estate of Los Angeles artist Robert Graham are suing the New York branches of Sotheby’s and Christie’s for resale rights, reports the Los Angeles Times. The three artists are lead plaintiffs in lawsuits filed Tuesday October 18 against the auction houses.

They allege that the Christie’s and Sotheby’s violated the California Resale Royalty Act of 1977. The law grants artists 5% of the proceeds from the resale of the artwork if the artist lives in California or if the sale occurs in California. The statute only applies to original works of “fine art” — “an original painting, sculpture, or drawing, or an original work of art in glass.” The Resale Royalty extends resale rights artists’ heirs up to 20 years after the artist is deceased.

According to the LA Times: “If successful, these suits could be more than a slap against Christie’s and Sotheby’s: They could affect how galleries with resale practices throughout California run their business — or shift that business elsewhere.”

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