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Help Bring the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada

Many people profit when an artwork is resold – but not the artist.

The Artist’s Resale Right would allow visual artists to receive 5% when their work is resold – just as they do in at least 69 other countries.

The full value of an artwork often isn’t seen on the first sale. It is common for visual art to increase in value over time, as the reputation of the artist grows.

For example, Inuit artist, Kenojuak Ashevak, sold her piece Enchanted Owl in 1960 for $24. It was later resold for $58,650. Ashevak got nothing from the resale.

Canada’s Aboriginal artists in particular are losing out on the tremendous profits being made on their work in the secondary market. Many artists living in isolated northern communities live in impoverished conditions, while their work dramatically increases in value.

CARFAC and RAAV continue to meet with members of Parliament in an effort to have the Artist’s Resale Right added to the Copyright Act. The reception continues to be positive but we are still waiting for a commitment on the part of the government.

Have questions? Read our Frequently Asked Questions and misconceptions about the Artists’ Resale Right.

Read more about the impact on artists of the Artist’s Resale Right.

Artist’s Resale Right Proposal


What people are saying about the Artist’s Resale Right

Canadian Collectors and Art Dealers

“Auction houses have been profiting from the works of great Canadian artists without giving anything back for far too long. Canada must do more to protect its artists — granting artists resale rights is the first step on a long road.”
– Gordon Gothreau, Ritchies auction house

“We have been collecting art for 50 years and have always taken a particular interest in the careers of younger Canadian artists we acquire. We have donated hundreds of works of these younger Canadian artists to the National Gallery of Canada, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Carleton University Art Gallery and the Ottawa Art Gallery, but it’s not enough to sustain their careers. The artists need to benefit more directly, and bringing the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada for when we buy or sell their work is essential to sustain our artists in Canada.”
– Glenn and Barbara McInnes, Ottawa

“As long as the Artist’s Resale Right is applied fairly, I would support it. A royalty paid to the artist on the resale of their work would not be a burden. It’s important that the paperwork in handling it, should be straight-forward and not too time consuming. If this concern is dealt with, it would be helpful to bringing in the Resale Right. A healthy art economy is good for dealers and artists alike.”
– Darrell Bell, Darrell Bell Gallery, Saskatoon, Member of the Art Dealers Association of Canada

“At Cube Gallery, we are committed to honouring the original artist through resale rights and feel that all galleries and dealers should as well. Not only do I support putting the Artist’s Resale Right in law, but Cube already pays the Artist’s Resale Right. We have paid an artist percentage since we began operation nine years ago, both from our own collections and at our yearly secondary sales shows. For me, it needs no debate — It’s just the right thing to do.”
– Don Monet, Cube Gallery, Ottawa

“I am definitely in support of the ARR – it makes perfect sense – and truly, I cannot see it having a serious impact on income for an art dealer or auction house. It is the right and ethical thing to do – after all – without the artist, the dealer or auction house simply has no – well, I hesitate to say product – but there it is. Without artists’ to make the work, dealers & auction houses have nothing to sell.”
– Y.M.Whelan, yumart, Toronto

“I’ve had an ongoing interest in the development of a strong art market, particularly here in the north and that can only happen when all the parties involved benefit from the appreciating value of a work of art.”
– Joan Ferneyhough, Ferneyhough Contemporary, North Bay, ON

“I am very supportive of ARR. It is only reasonable that artists should have a share in their own success. As a commercial gallery in Hamilton I have had few dealings in the secondary market, but it is a sector that will only grow.”
– David Brace, b contemporary fine art, Hamilton

The Northern Arts and Cultureal Centre will soon be putting some artwork that we own on eBay as a fundraiser. We have decided to give 5%of the sales to each of the artists because we not only believe that this is a small but important way to acknowledge the contribution of the artists to our collective cultural experience, but here in the north, the establishment the artist’s resale right would be a tremendous boon to the survival of our northern artistic heritage. We believe it would also be a great help confirming to our younger artists that it is indeed possible to have a career as an artist and earn enough of an income to be able to support themselves and their families.
– George Lessard, Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, Yellowknife

Art Market Professionals in England

“Sales have been as healthy as before the law came into effect. Clients haven’t indicated that they were unwilling to buy because of the royalty. In fact, there hasn’t really been much discussion of the law.”
– Glenn Scott-Wright, Victoria Moro Gallery, London, England

“We’ve had two very successful seasons,” and the resale royalty law has been “pretty irrelevant,” according to a spokesman for Christie’s.
– Huffington Post, September 2012

Government of Nunavut

“Inuit artists have brought their vision of the world to an international audience, and built an economic sector that creates jobs and contributes tens of millions of dollars every year to Nunavut’s economy. Today, we add our voice to support Artist’s Resale Rights and encourage Canada to address this critical piece of legislation.”
– Peter Taptuna, Minister of Economic Development & Transportation


Recent resales and comments from the artists

Ouvri by Marcel Barbeau

Marcel Barbeau, Montreal, Governor General Award Winner, Officer of the Order of Canada

“One of the works I produced in 1956, which I had given to a friend was sold by his heir at auction for $75,000. I did not receive one cent from this sale. Others are getting rich on my works, while my situation remains very insecure at 85 years of age.”

Resold: May 2008
Price: $75,000
What he would have received: $3750
Originally given to a friend by M. Barbeau

Case study on Marcel Barbeau’s auction history

Enchanted Owl by Kenojuak Ashevak

Kenojuak Ashevak (1927 – 2013), Cape Dorset, Governor General Award Winner, Companion of the Order of Canada

“Having lost my husband I had to learn to be the mother and father; I used my skill as an artist. I have learned to earn money for my dear children, and I am very grateful that I have been able to provide for my family through my drawings and carvings. I would like the idea of the Artist’s Resale Right. That would be ideal and should be encouraged. It would be so much better; those artists would benefit more and get more out of their work.”

Enchanted Owl
Resold: November 2001
Price: $58,650
What she would have received: $2932
Original selling price: $24

Mary Pratt, Newfoundland, Companion of the Order of Canada

“I have seen my work escalate in value by quite a big percentage. A painting done in 1966 fetched $40 and is valued now at $20,000. As we get older it gets harder and harder to find the energy to produce enough work to maintain a decent living.”

Gold Pear in Red
Resold: 2004
Price: $47,500
What she would have received: $2375

Case study on Mary Pratt’s auction history

Daphne Odjig, Kelowna, Governor General Award Winner, Member of the Order of Canada

“This is a wonderful way for artists to benefit from their hard work and dedication to, in many cases, their life’s work. In my case it was not until later in life that I have achieved a semblance of success, and at 92 yrs of age and surviving on a small pension and returns on dwindling investments it would definitely have been helpful to have had a small stream of extra income.”

The Embrace
Sold: November 2011
Price: $29,250
What she would have received: $1462

Case study on Daphne Odjig’s auction history

Michael Snow, Toronto, Governor General Award Winner, Companion of the Order of Canada

“The idea of the Artists Resale Right is a good one. People should be sympathetic to this.”

Resold: November 2011
Price: $175,500
What he would have received: $8775

Case Study on Michael Snow’s auction history

Joe Fafard, Lumsden, SK, Officer of the Order of Canada

The Inventor on His Invention
Resold: November 2011
Price: $48,000
What he would have received: $3982
Original selling price: Approximately $15,000

I am in full support of the modest proposal that artists have resale rights. It seems very little to ask when you consider that the artist, through his or her efforts over many years, is largely responsible for the increased value of their work. Many of the early works were sold at very low prices because the artist had not developed a reputation. Over many or a few years, some artists, through diligence and hard work, manage to increase the value of their market many fold. A buyer reselling a work may experience a windfall or at least a handsome profit. Sharing such a windfall with the artist who is largely responsible for this happy event with a modest 5% return to the artist seems less than generous to me, but let’s start there.

Case study on Joe Fafard’s auction history

Accélérateur chromatique 90 by Claude Tousignant

Claude Tousignant, Montreal, Governor General Award Winner, Officer of the Order of Canada

Having the Artist’s Resale Right would be more fair for artists. You work over several years and it’s inevitable that your previous pieces increase in value. Why shouldn’t the artist benefit from that?

Accélérateur Chromatique 90
Resold: November 2012
Price: $110,000
What he would have received: $5500

Christopher Pratt, Mount Camel, NL, Companion of the Order of Canada

“I would welcome the provisions of the Artists Resale Right.”

Resold: May 2012
Price: $198,900
What he would have received: $9945

David Blackwood, Port Hope, ON, Member of the Order of Canada

“Artist’s Resale Right is very, very important. Canada should be the role model for artists’ rights.”

Ephraim Kelloways Red Door
Resold: May 2012
Price: $64,900
What he would have received: $3717

Learn more:


Help Bring the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada

Photo: © Oxford