Art market fears threat from EU levy
British auction houses fear that an EU levy on works of art by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, due to be introduced in 2012, could undermine their position as world leaders in the field.
The government has a temporary exemption from the EU’s “droit de suite” levy on the re-sale price of works of art payable to the artist or the artist’s inheritors for 70 years after his or her death.
Extending the artists’ resale right beyond living artists to those who have died in the last 70 years would increase the number of sales liable to the levy by four times, according to estimates from the British Art Market Federation.
Considering nearly 40 per cent of the £7.7bn annual British art market is accounted for by modern and contemporary art, the levy would “irreparably damage” the sector, the federation added. “Art dealers and auctioneers in Switzerland, New York and Hong Kong must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the London art market having one hand tied behind its back after January 2012,” said federation chairman Anthony Browne.
Britain is second only to the United States in the international art market, accounting for 29 per cent of global sales. Last year the sector generated £7.7bn and £911m in tax revenues.