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Victor Ginsburgh and Clare McAndrew

The artist’s resale right (ARR) is the right enjoyed by the creator of an original work of art and their heirs to an economic interest in the resale of their work in the secondary market. A uniform system of ARR was introduced in the European Union (EU) in 2006 to address a perceived competitive distortion within the internal art market caused by the uneven application of the right and its non-application in some member states. Despite emotive arguments in its favour, objective analyses of the economic consequences of the right show that it is inefficient and does little to help artists most in need of support. The ARR can not only worsen the position for the contemporary artist, but could also have a detrimental effect on international art trade for the states in which it is introduced. Auction data from 2002 to 2018 shows the ARR has been ineffective at levelling the competitive playing field within the EU or redistributing sales, but has potentially been a factor contributing to the decline of the EU’s global share. It also shows that the right is severely anti-redistributive, with over 95 per cent of the royalties accruing to the top 50 artists in each country analysed.