GOT A LEGAL QUES TION?
Nancy E. Wolffis a partner at Cowan, DeBaets,
Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP. Her practice focuses
on intellectual property and digital media law.
The contract should also state when payment is to be made after
purchase, whether the gallery is entitled to purchase your work (and
at what discount as you will likely not receive commissions on resales).
q EXPENSES. Who is responsible for the costs of printing and framing?
In general, the artist pays for printing costs while framing costs may be
passed on to the buyer, but that point should be discussed.
q OWNERSHIP. The agreement should state that title to the artwork is
retained by the artist until payment has been made in full.
q COPYRIGHT. Copyright of the art work should always remain with the
artist. If the artwork requires reproduction by the gallery on a website
and in promotional material, the artist should grant these rights to the
gallery for the term of the agreement on a non-exclusive basis. With
any sale to a client, the client should only acquire the print and never
acquire copyright or any right to make reproductions.
q CARE AND SHIPPING. The gallery should be responsible for any loss
or damage incurred to the work and should insure the works in full. It
should also be responsible for shipping the work to any client.
q PRICING. The pricing of the prints should be by mutual agreement
with advice from the gallery. It is common to permit the gallery to
discount the work to clients by 10 percent without consultation; any
larger discount should be approved in writing.
q EXHIBITIONS. When an exhibition will be mounted by the gallery,
the costs paid for by the gallery should be agreed upon.
q EDITIONS. Many works are sold in limited editions, as opposed to
open editions. It should be the responsibility of the gallery to maintain
the records of editions for the works sold.
q CLIENT INFORMATION. Though some galleries value the privacy of
their customers, as an artist, you may want to know if your work is
acquired by a prominent collector or institution that would enhance
q INVEN TORY AND RETURNS. The gallery should maintain an inventory
of your work and, once the relationship ends, your work should be
In addition, if the gallery is in New York State, New York Arts and
Cultural Affairs Law governs the relationship. The artwork held by
the gallery or the money obtained from a sale never belongs to the
gallery and it cannot be used by the gallery for its own purpose or by
Written contracts are the best way to ensure that there are no
misunderstandings, but the most important aspect of the gallery-dealer relationship is trust and working with a reputable business
partner who believes in you and your work. EDU
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