The excellent Jori Finkel continues to stir the pot over California’s artist resale royalty law which many experts have been saying has always been recognized as only enforceable on sales that take place within the state. Now it appears that a long running suit between Mark Grotjahn and collector Dean Valentine will come to trial in early 2012:
Grotjahn said he’s been paid his 5% royalty by collectors more than a dozen times. “When they first started selling my stuff at auction, I’d have my dealers ask collectors for the royalty. A lot of people would hem and haw — I wouldn’t say they gave the money happily, but they paid, I think out of respect for me. At this point as far as I know, I only have one person who has refused to pay, and that’s Dean.”
“I think Dean’s made $3 million off of buying and selling my work, so this is a really lame thing to do,” Grotjahn added, noting that Valentine had bought some of his early works for less than $10,000. His paintings, including one that Valentine resold, have since topped $1 million.
Valentine says that he is not paying the fee as a matter of principle. “As a California resident I don’t believe I should be disadvantaged in collecting or reselling art. I’m being treated unfairly. I’m a big believer that there should be some kind of national royalty here, like in France, but I don’t see any reason why I should have to pay in a situation when other collectors do not. […] This is about a law that is incredibly poorly written and discriminatory.”
Artist Mark Grotjahn in battle royal over royalties (Los Angeles Times)