The Artists’ Lawsuit
October 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES—A group of artists including Chuck Close and Laddie John Dill has been joined by the estate of artist Robert Graham in filing class-action suits against Sotheby’s, Christie’s and eBay, contending the auctioneers willfully violated a California law requiring royalty payments on sales of their works.

Under the California resale royalty law, 5% of the sale’s proceeds must be given to the artist or artist’s estate for the selling of an artwork produced by a living artist or an artist who has been deceased for fewer that 20 years. The law applies to both works of art sold in California as well as outside the state.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuits allege that Christie’s and Sotheby’s have unlawfully circumnavigated the 5% royalties by purposefully concealing the identities and residencies of sellers who live in California.

A spokesperson from Sotheby’s told ARTINFO, “We believe that we have meaningful defenses to the claims asserted and they will be vigorously defended.” A representative from Christie’s said the auction house “looks forward to addressing these issues in court.”

Image via Artinfo

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