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The collecting agency in the UK, the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), distributed £340,000 to artists in December, bringing the total pay-out in 2006 to £709,000. The amounts artists have received range from just £13.77 to £27,358. In all, 412 artists have received resale royalties from DACS including Damien Hirst, Richard Hamilton, Mary Fedden and Tracey Emin.

The collecting agency have contacted 5000 auction houses, galleries and art dealers throughout the UK since the levy began in February last year and hosted a series of roadshows in London, Cardiff, Dundee and Belfast. A DACS spokeswoman told ATG that they had received “a high level of compliance” from the trade.

“Galleries, dealers and auctioneers have quickly settled into the routine of paying the Artists’ Resale Right,” she said. “The vast majority are now up to speed and the artists greatly appreciate receiving the money.”

DACS have collected over £1m of resale royalties from art sales. They have also collected resale payments from sales in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and France under reciprocal arrangements with collecting societies in other EU countries.

Unlike the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Austria, the three other EU members that introduced a resale levy for the first time, Britain’s decision to set a €1000 minimum threshold at which the levy applies, rather than €3000, has meant 56 per cent more artists have received royalties than would otherwise have been the case.

However, two of the countries most in favour of the resale levy, France and Germany, have yet to update their legislation to bring it in line with the EU directive.

The Republic of Ireland also failed to implement the right by the beginning of last year as required by the directive. Instead, temporary measures were rushed through in June after artist Robert Ballagh took legal proceedings against the Irish government for failing to meet its required deadline.

With no law having passed through the Oireachtas (the national parliament), very little resale levy has been collected in Ireland. A spokesman for the organisation Visual Artists Ireland, the body that represents professional artists in the country, described the present situation as “unworkable”.

However, the major outstanding issue for the art trade is the proposed extension of the resale right to encompass heirs up to 70 years after the artist’s death. This would greatly increase the number of works subject to the resale charge. In a recent development, French culture minister Donnedieu de Vabres stated that France would now support Britain’s position that the resale levy should only apply to living artists.