Artists Sue California Galleries Over Resale Royalties

  • "Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994," edited by Debra Burchett-Lere with featured essay by William C.  Agee, 320 pages, published Oct.  2011, is priced at $495.00 by University of California Press.

    "Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994," edited by Debra Burchett-Lere with featured essay by William C. Agee, 320 pages, published Oct. 2011, is priced at $495.00 by University of California Press.

    University of California Press

The foundation of the late abstract painter Sam Francis is the lead plaintiff in class-action lawsuits filed Tuesday against nine galleries in California, alleging that they did not pay owed artist's royalties on resold artworks.

The suit follows last month's class-action suits filed against Sotheby's and Christie's in New York and EBay in San Jose citing Resale Royalty Act of 1976, which provides artists with 5% of the sales price of artworks when they are resold under certain conditions. The law also applies to artist's estates for up to 20 years after the death of the artist.

Galleries named so far in the suit include Ace, Manny Silverman, Leslie Sacks, Hamilton/Selway, Denis Bloch and Lora Schlesinger in Los Angeles, and Scott Richards, Martin Lawrence and Hackett/Mill in San Francisco.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a few dealers named in the suit are unaware of selling Francis artworks on the secondary market. One says he only handles prints which are not covered by the law.

Some members of the art trade fear that the suits could greatly affect the resale art market in California, causing more contemporary art sales to be held out-of-state.

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Gustav Klimt, "The Arts, Paradise Choir, and The Embrace (detail of Beethoven Frieze)," 1902.  Casein paint, chalk, graphite, applied plaster, and various appliqué materials, 84.7 x 189.4 in.  (215 x 481 cm).  Oesterreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Vienna, Austria © Belvedere, Vienna

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