Recent guidelines published by the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) indicate that artists working in Italian galleries may in the future see a significant proportion of current resale rights to the secondary market reduced.
In February 2019, SIAE published its new policy, which states that “the resale right applies only in cases where the transaction, subsequent to the first transfer made directly by the author of the work, takes place through an art market professional for more than €3,000”. The royalties collecting agency has reached this out-of-court agreement with a consortium of Italian and international galleries after six years of negotiations – with the understanding that it will keep the country’s art world competitive in the global market.
The resale right is a fundamental right for authors of graphic and plastic arts. It consists of a small percentage of the resale price that art market professionals pay to them at each resale of their works at auction or in a gallery. The right was incorporated into the Berne Convention in 1948 and in 2001 was enshrined in European Union law through the Resale Right Directive. EU-wide harmonization was achieved in January 2006.
At this time, in 2006, Italy interpreted the European Union’s directive on artist resale right to cover all transactions made by galleries acting on behalf of artists under consignment agreements. This new guideline will now revert to the EU directive of only sales exceeding €3,000, while countries such as the UK have a lower threshold of €1,000.
Having been involved with Artist Resale Right discussions we will be interested to see how this decision will affect the artists whose work is re-selling for less than €3,000 in Italy in the future, and how other countries might respond to this decision regarding the support of their own cultural communities.