Artists and their heirs have collected over £50 million in royalties from the resale of their works through the art market over the last decade.

This is according to data released by the two main collecting agencies for Artists’ Resale Right (ARR) payments in the UK, the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) and the Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS). According to a white paper published by DACS, it has distributed £46.9 million in ARR royalties to 3,965 artists and artists’ estates since 2006. ACS has collected some £6 million in royalties. The publication of the data was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the introduction of ARR in the UK on 13 February 2006. 

Derived from a European Directive, ARR entitles creators (‘authors’) of original works of art to a royalty each time their work is resold through an art market professional or auction house. To attract the right, a work must be sold for the sterling equivalent of €1,000 or more. The DACS white paper demonstrates a dramatic increase in ARR payments to artists and their heirs over the past five years. Receipts have tripled since 2012 when the ARR was extended to enable collections to be made up to 70 years after an artist’s death.

The DACS white paper also highlights the extent to which artists rely on ARR payments to sustain their practice with 81% of recipients using ARR income for living expenses. Artist Jeremy Deller told DACS how important ARR payments are to help redress the imbalance between auction houses which “make incredible amounts of money” and artists’ income. “A lot of people do very well out of the art market and obviously the artists aren’t always the ones doing that,” Deller said.

Welcomed by the arts community, which campaigned and lobbied vociferously for its introduction in the UK, the ARR has generated anxiety amongst auctioneers and dealers. Phillip Smith of Mallams, Oxford told the Antiques Trade Gazette that 10 years on the ARR scheme continues to cause difficulties:

“There was a lot of antipathy and worry about how ARR would affect the trade when it was first brought in. Auctioneers have got used to it now, but the cumbersome administration and issues over technicalities have been more of a burden.”

Despite these complications, DACS predicts ARR revenues will increase again in 2016.