Detail of 'Crucifixion (for Lorna Wishart)', c.1947 (ink on paper) © The Lucian Freud Archive. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images.

ACS celebrates 17 years of the Artist's Resale Right!
February 14, 2023
We celebrated 17 years of the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) on St Valentine’s Day!

Introduced in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2006, ARR is an intellectual property right that entitles artists to a percentage of the sale price whenever their work is resold on the secondary market.


The origins of ARR can be traced back to the public outcry sparked by the revelation that the relatives of Jean-François Millet (1814–75) were living in poverty while the artist’s work fetched enormous prices at auction.


The Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS) was established in 2006 by Harriet Bridgeman, founder and Chairman of Bridgeman Images, on the underlying principle that artists and their estates should benefit from the increasing value of their work.


Since 1 January 2012, ACS has administered just under £20 million in ARR royalties to 365 artists and 451 artists’ estates. In the financial year ending 2022, ACS distributed over £1.8 million of ARR royalties. 62% of all royalties administered in the financial year ending 2022 had a sale price of £5,000 or less. Furthermore, 83% of all ARR royalties paid to member artists and artists’ estates in the financial year ending 2022 totaled £500 or less, highlighting the support that ARR gives to artists and artists’ estates which have only recently started to appear on the secondary market.


Over the years, ACS’ membership has continued to grow and represents a diverse range of artists and artists’ estates. Our members include an exciting mixture of artists such as renowned painters Lucian Freud, Paula Rego, Frank Auerbach and Eileen Cooper, sculptors Barbara Hepworth, Lynn Chadwick and Anthony Caro, street artists Eine and Bambi and photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Bill Brandt. These names represent just a small selection of the 1,500 plus artists and artists’ estates who have chosen ACS to represent them.


“At the heart of the Artist’s Resale Right is the intention that artists and their estates should benefit from the increasing value of their work. After all, there would be no art without artists. The Artist’s Resale Right, now more than ever, provides invaluable financial support to artists and their estates, so it is imperative that we shine a light on those who are cutting off this essential source of income.” - Harriet Bridgeman CBE, ACS’s Managing Director


The idea that artists and their estates should benefit from the increasing value of their work is the underlying reason that ACS was founded as a Community Interest Company (CIC). As a CIC, any surplus income is automatically locked into ACS and is only used for the benefit of our member artists and the artistic community – with a particular emphasis on education, rehabilitation and younger, emerging artists.


As the only not-for-profit, Community Interest Company administering the Artist’s Resale Right in the UK, we see first-hand how the ARR benefits both emerging and established artists as well as their estates.

Since 2012, ACS has re-invested just under £180,000 back into the artistic community and we are proud to support a wide range of artistic causes, including prizes, charities and bursaries for Fine Art students at higher education institutions.


Over the last 17 years, we have continuously supported charities, such as the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution (AGBI) and the Koestler Arts, and sponsored prizes, including the Young Masters Art Prize. 


After a number of our members spoke of the economic challenges they faced when starting their artistic careers, ACS launched four different residencies. In addition to our ACS Studio Prize, which offers a recent graduate £6,000 to contribute towards the cost of a studio space, ACS offers three other residencies through our partnerships with City & Guilds of London Art School, the University of Edinburgh and The Glasgow School of Art. In addition to these residencies, ACS offers a huge variety of prizes and bursaries to fine art students at universities and art schools, throughout the UK and Ireland.


We are thrilled to see how past prize winners have gone on to exhibit at prestigious galleries and art fairs including, Rebecca Harper, Flora Yukhnovich, and Eleanor May Watson who all recently exhibited with galleries at London Art Fair.


Dorcas Casey was elected as an Academician at the Royal West of England Academy. Dion Kitson exhibited with galleries at Frieze London 2022. Rebecca Harper is represented by Anima Mundi gallery and has exhibited with Huxley Parlour. Eleanor May Watson recently began representation with Brocket Gallery. The inaugural ACS Studio Prize winner, sculptor Marco Miehling, has exhibited in NIROX Sculpture Park in Johannesburg, South Africa and was also a part of Selfridges London Artblock Commission in Partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


As a company dedicated to the administration of our members’ Artist’s Resale Right and copyright, we understand the importance of intellectual property rights. ACS educates emerging artists, across the country in schools, university and studios, on their intellectual property rights through a series of talks and workshops designed to debunk the myths surrounding copyright and the Artist’s Resale Right.


The above is just a small snapshot of how ACS supports the artistic community. You can read more about the work we do and the organisations we have partnered with on our Prizes & Bursaries page.

While we are pleased to be celebrating the Seventeenth anniversary of ARR in the UK, we are also pleased to be celebrating 103 years of its introduction into Europe.


Droit de suite, or the ‘right to follow’, was introduced to France in 1920 to ensure that artists and their heirs have continued to benefit from the increasing value of their work on the secondary market.


Since it was first brought into law, ARR has supported thousands of artists and their beneficiaries in Europe and the UK. We are thrilled that the UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to preserving ARR post the UK’s departure from the European Union.