The New York Times points out that the auction houses have hired some of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists to defeat the proposed bill for artists’ resale royalties, including art collector and lobbyist Tony Podesta. The biggest complaint is that the resale royalty doesn’t cover the secondary market for works sold by dealers. If it did, private sale prices would become more visible:
“We’re taking it seriously, even though we don’t think it’s going to pass,” said Jane A. Levine, Sotheby’s director of worldwide compliance.
Art world deal making typically doesn’t involve Congress, so elite auction houses have not had much cause to spend time — or money — lobbying Capitol Hill. And in this case, the effort might seem outsize — a drone firing on a beetle — given that a version of the bill introduced in December 2011 by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, and former Senator Herbert Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, failed to attract a single co-sponsor. But a few things have changed since then. One is that Mr. Nadler is now the ranking Democrat on the courts, intellectual property and Internet subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction. A second is that the United States Copyright Office issued a report in December that backed off its longtime opposition to the idea of resale royalties. The report noted that in the past 20 years, dozens of countries around the world have introduced some version of resale royalties, known by the French phrase droit de suite.
Lobbyists Set to Fight Royalty Bill for Artists (NYTimes.com)