Whatever came before, it is this extension that dealers, in particular, most fear, and with reason: Picasso, Matisse, Moore and Bacon are just some of the names who will soon qualify. Meanwhile the Modern print specialists must be wringing their hands in despair. However, the government seemed on side, a reassuring position in light of the renewed vigour across the Channel in France – birthplace of the Resale Right – to do away with the levy, or at least limit it to living artists.
Now, however, we have the Intellectual Property Office's (IPO) response on behalf of the Government to the European Commission's consultation on the subject, and a more insipid and intellectually detached document it would be hard to find.
Bizarrely, it ignores any study into the subject from the past three and a half years, solely quoting from the Szymanski report, which it commissioned itself and published in January 2008, and basing all of its conclusions on what has or has not happened already rather than what would be the likely course of events once the extension is introduced.
The IPO's stated reason for not acknowledging any of the more up-to-date findings or statistics – much of which gives very clear indication of the anticipated impact – appears to be that the reports in question are not "fully accessible online".
This, despite the IPO being provided with copies of those reports and knowing where to source them.
We are truly at the eleventh hour on this issue. Without the political will to tackle this in the UK, French support could well dwindle. Despite other distractions at this moment, Whitehall needs to act and now, or be blamed for selling the British art market down the river.