Art law USA

Letter to the editor

Speaking on behalf of impecunious collectors in the US, resist droit de suite as hard as you can

I hesitate to disagree with the distinguished Edward Winkleman (link at left), but he is looking at droit de suite from a dealer’s point of view rather than a collector’s. I understand his views about flipping and more openness being desirable. But there is another point of view. Firstly, not all collectors are incredibly rich. Secondly, droit de suite only goes to works of art over a certain value, so it is only paid to successful artists. I can see it is hard when they see a work they sold for very little going for a great deal of money, but what I would say is—tough!

I bet Robert Scull had bought his Rauschenberg for $900 a long time before the sale in 1973 and the notorious “shove”. If I had been Rauschenberg, I would have been thrilled that the work sold for $85,000, knowing that with that public benchmark the rest of my work was immensely more valuable.

So I would say, speaking on behalf of impecunious collectors in the US, who buy because they love the work, and then for whatever reason have the need to sell, resist droit de suite as hard as you can. The money taken from the collector’s pocket is going into the pocket only of already successful artists and their heirs. Auctioneers and dealers do not care—it is not their pocket.

Sonia Coode-Adams MBE

Send your letters to the Editor to: 70 South Lambeth Road London SW8 1RL UK or email: j.morris [at]

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