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Tue Jan 24 2012 20:20:49

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Ever wonder which countries and which U.S. states buy the most antiques and collectibles? TIAS.com recently released its geographic data of where online buyers of antiques & collectibles came from in 2011, and the results are interesting. 

In terms of countries, the U.S. is by far the largest purchaser of such goods on TIAS.com, accounting for 92.2% of online sales. California topped the list of U.S. states for both 2011 (11.9% of online sales) and 2010 (10.9% of online sales). It's followed for 2011 by Pennsylvania (7.2%), New York (6.6%), and Texas (6.0%). 

"California became even more dominant as the location for buyers of antiques & collectibles online," said TIAS.com President Phillip Davies, noting there were also some major shifts in rank of the remaining U.S. States compared to 2010.

Given California's status as a top-spending U.S. state for this kind of merchandise, it may not be surprising there's a legal battle going on there now between artists and art resellers. In a class action lawsuit, artists are suing eBay and auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's, claiming those companies are not collecting a five percent royalty fee every time a piece of art is resold, as required by a California law.

The law is intended to give artists a chance to reap the rewards of their work appreciating over time, as many artists sell work cheaply early in their careers.

And California art dealers can't get around the law by selling the work outside of the state; the law says the royalty still applies as long as the seller is a California resident. But the sellers say the law interferes with interstate commerce by imposing a burden on out-of-state business activity, and also that it intrudes on federal copyright powers. They are asking the court to declare this California law unconstitutional.

What do you think about the law? Is it fair or unfair to the artists, or do you think the sellers are right on either argument?

And where do the majority of your sales come from?

About the Author
Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.




Comments (8) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: Rich

Tue Jan 24 20:42:29 2012

The numbers seem to go in line with the states populations; except for Pennsylvania.  Interesting why Pennsylvania is so high on the list

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: DrStrangegoods This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 24 22:42:45 2012

Rich: I live in Pennsylvania and there is a very strong tradition of flea markets, auctions, collecting and antiques in this state.

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: Good Grief

Wed Jan 25 10:08:24 2012

Interesting indeed, when I list collectibles they seem to sell ONLY to CA and NY.

I've never sold any collectibles to any of the other states listed.

I live in the center of the country if that makes a difference.

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Wed Jan 25 11:38:54 2012

I sell non-sport trading cards. I was looking/checking my records of 2011. California is the winner in my records. Also I agree with positions 1 to 6.

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: Deltamaster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 26 07:41:55 2012

I think it is a great idea and a good law to ensure California artists are rewarded for their work by requiring they be paid a commission when their work resells.

Too many people make a fortune off the work of artists after they originally sell their art while the artist reaps NONE of that benefit.

I personally think this should be an international law.

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: jonrid

Thu Jan 26 10:11:15 2012

The California law is STUPID STUPID STUPID.

I have a 1926 MODEL T Ford which originally sold new for $625.

Should I pay a 5% royality because the car is more valuable in 2912 than 1926?

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Thu Jan 26 13:54:11 2012

This is an interesting issue. I think artists continue to hold the copyright to the art, even when you purchase the work, unless you specifically buy the copyright. An artist friend of mine mentioned this because he makes prints of his paintings and includes a notice that purchase of any of his artworks does not include any transfer of copyright. I can understand the point of the royalty, but it seems like it would be a nightmare to enact/enforce. What is the definition or "art", for instance, and for how long does such a royalty have to be observed? Does it transfer to inheritors after an artist's death? There are a lot of questions and problems with this, that I can see, just at first glance.

Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law   Who's Buying Where and the Influence of California Art Law

by: Robin Bates

Thu Jan 26 14:05:29 2012

Well, when we get done with this stupid law, we can apply it the opposite, if you buy a piece of art and it declines in value, the artist owes you money!    I like that.   What about prints?   What about yard sales, small auctions, flea markets etc....     No way to even regulate that.   And control out of state business,  ha ha!  too much kool aid here.  Once again the  state of California shows its stupidity.  
Selling art cheap to make a living, when starting out is true of a lot businesses.   Until you get a reputation and patrons, your art is worth next to nothing.   And that is what you should be paid.  Many artists never make it.  I guess if you are a waitress and become a move star, you should be compensated for the small salary you received as an extra when you finally make it big.    



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