art by Claude J. Easy July 18, 2018
This is horse shit.
Yet again, big-name auction houses and corporations have gotten the upper hand over starving artists. Earlier this month, renowned artist Chuck Close and his homies were dubbed losers in a seven-year-long legal battle to collect royalty payments from Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and eBay.
In other words, the Ninth Circuit of the US Appeals Court basically threw the California Resale Royalties Act (CRRA) in la basura. AKA it’s slow for any artists who were looking to collect any kind of royalties on their artworks resold after 1977.
What else could we have expected? If Close and the other artists involved in the case had won, it probably would’ve opened the floor for other states to consider adopting the legislation. But, of course, big brother found a way, as they always do, to snub progression.
Laddie John Dill, one of the artists involved in the class action lawsuits expressed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he was not surprised about losing the case and that it wasn’t about the mula, for him. He said,
“I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed… It varied over the years. It can be as much as $2,500 to $3,000, but some years just in the hundreds. It was the principle of the thing.”
Highkey, Sotheby’s and Christie’s were hype about the court’s decision to restrict the CRAA based on the grounds that the statute was bumped by the federal copyright law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1978.
According to the NYT, Sotheby’s said in an email statement, “This quixotic action, which was based on an obviously unconstitutional statute, is finally nearing its end.” Christie’s also threw in their two cents stating that it “is pleased with the court’s decision.”
In fact, you should know that the US was late to the game and California was the only state where this type of legislation made it through. Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas all discouraged the idea of fine art royalty laws.
The French, as always, started the fire trend of giving artist what they deserved. Since it was enacted in 1920, the droit de suite law has inspired around 60 countries to recognize “that artists have certain moral rights in their works and the economic concern that artists often are unable to benefit from the full value of their works.”
It’s really hard to understand why the US is constantly playing catch up when it comes to morality. Californian artists were required to receive, in the event of a resale of a work over $1000, only five percent as the law states and if they are deceased the artist’s estate gets it. Think about it. That’s a little bit of guap compared to how much a popular piece of work can be resold for.
For instance, take a look at Andy Warhol’s Triple Elvis and Four Marlons artworks. They were bought by a German casino for around $185,000 and today are worth over $100 million. What’s crazy? No one from Warhol’s estate will ever see even one percent of that come up.
It’s like how greedy can conniving art collectors, auction houses, and e-commerce sites get? If you made $100 million off of a painting you couldn’t deal with giving back $5 million to the artist or the artist’s family? Sheesh, that’s a little bit savage considering you would still have $95 million left over.
I’m not the only who was enraged by the court’s terrible decision. The Dean Collection’s Swizz Beats took to Instagram to express how he felt about artists not receiving royalties on their life’s work. He said,
“This is the #1 most important thing I’m going to be apart of changing in the art world. I swear on everything I love. Artists should get royalties on the life of the work that’s produced & resold! What would the ART market be without artists? Nothing!! I’m sending love to all the artists around the world you will win remember I told you!!!! Blessings #chuckclose for standing up and fighting…”
The CRAA was created to protect Californian artists from con-collectors. Its implementation was pushed by the contemporary artist, Robert Rauschenberg, who was hustled by a douchebag, Robert Scull.
In this instance of treachery, Scull had resold Rauschenberg’s “Thaw” collage for $85,000 when he had only paid the artist $800 for it. Yes, I know to hustlers out there this is the ultimate come up but, c’mon son, you should always bless those who’ve put you on.
Lowkey, Rauschenberg snuffed the living hell out of Scull. How many scumbag art collectors are going to have to get rocked for the US government to take notice that starving artists are getting g’d?
Until then, fine artists watch your back and know your value. There is never any fun in getting Rauschenberged.