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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Deal agreed over artists' royalties
Away from the flock by Damien Hirst
Every time Damien Hirst's work sells he could get a cut
A new European deal to give artists a cut of the proceeds from the resale of their works has been agreed in Brussels.

But in the UK the royalties will not start flowing in until 2012.

The Government is holding out until the last moment before introducing the law.

It fears London auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's would suffer if art owners took their paintings outside the EU in order to avoid handing over a cut of the sale.

The UK's lucrative 3.2bn-a-year art market is one of the top three such markets in the world alongside Switzerland and the United States.

For years the European Commission (EC) has wanted to give creative artists the long-term financial recognition already accorded to pop stars.

Picasso's Weeping Woman
Picasso's heirs to get the cut on sales
Recording artists receive a royalty each time a copy of their work is bought or played publicly.

Other kinds of artists only benefit from the original sale, but do not gain if their works go on to become investments for successive owners.

Maximum payment

On Thursday EU governments ended nearly four years of wrangling and formally endorsed the terms of a compromise which was drawn up earlier this year.

Once the law comes into force, authors of works of art will receive a royalty of up to 4% every time their original paintings, sculptures, or other artistic treasures are sold on by agents or at auction in Britain or anywhere else in the EU.

The maximum an artist can receive on a single sale is pegged at 7,500.

The royalties will continue during the artist's life and until 70 years after death - but the law will not come into force in the UK until the start of 2012.

The EC says that even then the impact on UK art market jobs would be minimal because the benefit would go largely to 20th century art which accounts for only 10% of the turnover of the main London auction houses.

The UK Government estimates that royalty payouts could cost the sector an extra 280m, while trade worth another 700,000 a year could be lost to rival markets in Switzerland and the United States.

It says the benefits will only be felt by a tiny number of already wealthy artists' families, such as Picasso's heirs.

Only four EU member states - the UK, Ireland, Austria and Holland - do not already guarantee royalties on art works.

See also:

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UK's art auctions 'under threat'
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