The Art dealer Ivor Braka is being sued by artists’ resale rights groups for not paying royalties to living artists or their estates. The Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS) and the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) have challenged the dealer in a rare court case. The suit is expected to set a legal precedent for court action to address non-compliance with the Artist’s Resale Right Regulations and disclosure of sales information.
The groups stated in court documents that from the formation of Artist’s Resale Rights laws in 2006, they have “made repeated requests to Braka to report sales on which the royalty is due” and that Braka had “refused to respond in breach of his legal obligation to do so”.
Braka has made millions selling bluechip art by Bacon and Freud and has donated funds to mainstream arts institutions in the US and UK, including The Yale Center for British Art, The Whitworth University of Manchester, The Serpentine Gallery, The Tate and The National Gallery in London. Artist’s Resale Rights supposedly ensures the fair distribution of royalties generated through secondary market sales to artists and artists’ estates.”
Ivor Braka retorted with the following statement: “DACS/ACS brought out a statement last week which sets out to damage my reputation and ‘make an example of me. They say that by failing to pay their levy on resale. I am failing artists and being immoral. This is not the truth.” Braka listed the following reasons why he disagrees with ARR: 1. I have always fundamentally disagreed with the introduction of the Artists’ Resale Right. It was a European law forced on us. 2. I disagree with it because it favours artists with an active market and ignores those that are really in need. There are extraordinary artists that need support but don’t produce work that is acknowledged by the market. Why is there no discussion about this and why wasn’t this debated at the beginning? 3. I may stand alone, but I have always been very vocal about my objections to the Artists’ Resale levy. It applies just to those in the art business (“art market professionals”), and yet many so-called collectors these days are the biggest traders. 4. It is often compared to copyright law in the music world, but it is not the same. Although I believe the artist should hold copyright over the use of mechanical reproductions of their work, the work itself becomes the property of someone else once it is sold. The ARR goes counter to the spirit of English property law. 5. The ARR is a deeply flawed levy in that it raises money almost exclusively for very wealthy artists or estates. 6. ARR also fails to recognise that when you buy for £5,000 and sell for £3,000, you are still liable to pay the levy. This makes no sense at all.”
The Artists’ Collecting Society said, “ACS and the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), with the help of the art law team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and Harry Martin of 5 Stone Buildings, have united to uphold the rights of artists and artists’ estates and ensure that they receive the royalties that are rightfully owed to them by jointly bringing legal action against well-known art dealer, Ivor Braka.
Since the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) was first introduced in 2006, both ACS and DACS have said that they are dedicated to ensuring that their members receive the royalties that they are rightfully owed to them from the secondary sales of their work.
ACS and DACS have made repeated requests to Mr Braka and his company Ivor Braka Limited to report sales on which the royalty is due, to which Mr Braka has refused to respond, in breach of his legal obligation to do so. The claim against Braka is the first of its kind in the UK. Both ACS and DACS are hoping this case will set a precedent for Court action to address non-compliance with the ARR and disclosure of sales information.”
Funds generated from the secondary art market are not distributed to the artists most in need of these funds. It benefits only the best selling artists and their estates and not the wider creative community. In its current form, ARR royalties provide an extra income for thousands of well established artists and their beneficiaries across the UK. Still, they are not distributing a proportion of these funds to emerging and mid-career artists.
If the decision to undertake legal action underscores ACS’ and DACS’ commitment to pursuing a fair and transparent playing field by ensuring that artists and their estates receive legally owed royalties, then the distribution of funds should be fairly shared across the board.
Mariupol Museum Levelled By Russian Soldiers
A museum in Mariupol focusing on the 19th-century artist Arkhip Kuindzhi has been destroyed by Russian bombing. The gallery was located in the Ukrainian port city, which has sustained attack since February.
Kuindzhi was born in Mariupol of Greek parentage and was associated with the 19th-century Russian Realist art movement known as The Wanderers. The group is popular with both Russians and Ukrainians. Fortunately, the collection had been dismantled and none of the works by Kuindzhi were on display at the time of the bombing.
Turner Prize-Winning Artist Steve McQueen Knighted By Princess Anne
The Turner Prize, Oscar and Golden Globe-winning artist/director has received his Knighthood from The Princess Royal during an Investiture Ceremony at Windsor Castle 15/03/22.
Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969 and currently lives and works in London and Amsterdam. He is one of the most renowned artists and filmmakers of his generation, creating works to be shown in gallery spaces as well as four cinematic films: Hunger (2008), Shame (2010), the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) and most recently Widows (2018). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held worldwide, including a major retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Schaulager, Basel in 2012-13. He won the Turner Prize in 1999, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was awarded an OBE in 2002 and a CBE in 2011.
Top Photo courtesy Royal Academy