Thursday, September 01, 2022

Sales from the Artist's Estate

This is about resources for those needing to think about the disposal of art from an Estate after the death of an artist and/or art collector.

Having lost my mother recently, I'm in that rather odd phase where you become super sensitive to all mentions of death.

This morning it was the passing of Bill Turnbull - and the shock of realising he was younger than me! 

Followed by looking at the Mall Galleries website to check the dates of an exhibition - and noticing that the first thing I see is a new section of their website about sales of art from Artists Estates

(It's on the home page at the moment - but it's unclear which section you can find it in future as there are two possible options)

This appears to be publicising a feature/service that a small number of deceased members of the societies which make up the Federation of British Artists enjoy. It's certainly NOT including artwork by every artist who has died. Many of course will have made alternative arrangements. But there is a selection of artists whose work continues to be available online.

It occurs to me there's scope to make this into a more developed aspect of the offerings by the Mall Galleries. 

  • Almost every exhibition I go to has news of between one and three artists who have died in the past year. 
  • This is in part because many of the members of the various artists which make up the nine national Art Societies which form the Federation of British Artists (FBA) which runs the Mall Galleries tend to be rather old.

It's also a well known fact that many artists

  • tend to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to thinking about disposal of their art after their death
  • AND are not very good at making arrangements in advance for the disposal of their art after their death. Who should do it - and how it should be done. 
It's one thing to appoint Executors - as we all do - but many artists also need a specific Executor appointed to handle their art.

I've been well aware of this issue of the Art Legacy for some time. Hence a major section on my Art Business Info for Artists website which covers this topic - of which more below.....

The Art Legacy | Art Business Info for Artists

The Art Legacy section of my Art Business Info for Artists website can be found in the Money & Tax section. It's all about how to handle the disposal of art after death​.
This section is about what an artist, an art collector - or their Executor - needs to know regarding Estate Planning and the management of an Estate including art BEFORE and AFTER the death of an artist or an art collector.
The Contents of this section include SEVEN separate pages covering specific and relevant topics
  1. Estate Planning for Artists - practical aspects and tips for artists and those looking after their estates​
  2. Estate Planning for Art Collectors - A checklist of things to think about if you collect art​and want to be able to dispose of it in the best way possible - whatever that may be.
  3. Famous Artists Estates - Highlighting problems that have arisen with the estates of famous artists
  4. Artwork Inventory - Tips for cataloguing your artwork for your estate - and how to make life easier for your Artistic Executor
  5. After the Death of an Artist - What needs to happen after an artist dies PLUS some of the practical actions an Executor needs to take.
  6. Copyright and Resale Rights for Heirs - Copyright relating to original artwork is a valuable asset in an artist's estate. You can derive income from it for a specific period of time after the death of an artist.
  7. Art and Inheritance Tax - When tax planning for an Estate, it's very important to get professional advice. The links in this section are to websites which can help you to understand better what are the relevant issues and help you work out the questions you need answers to.​​
This website seeks to address these issues in time to avoid problems - and provide information FOR FREE to those wanting more information about what they need to do and when is the best time to do it.
"Dead artists leave two bodies: their own, and a body of work"
Harriet Schorr
The Art Legacy Section highlights issues before and after death


  • CHECKLIST of issues for artists to consider when planning the disposal of their estates
  • CHECKLIST of issues for art collectors to get to grips with prior to death
  • links to sources of helpful information and advice


Many of the difficulties that estates of famous artists have experienced are essentially due to mistakes, omissions and poor estate planning before death

However, after death, there is a whole new challenge. Executors of artists' estates may have little or no understanding of how the art world works. As such they face major challenges both before and after death. 

Highlights include:
    • What do you need to know and do if you are an Executor who knows nothing about art?
    • How do you minimise challenges for those who have to deal with the Estate of an Artist or Art Collector?
    • What's the best way of avoiding financial squabbles?
    Too often these are issues which people find very difficult to deal with and consequently they very avoid dealing with them - sometimes until it's far too late.
    What a great site. In-depth information on estate planning; the fact that is aimed at artists and art collectors is very interesting and a targeted area that I have not seen too readily before. Especially when investment in art is becoming more common place, it is great that this has been so informative to what might normally be quite confusing regarding asset protection. A very good read.

    One EXAMPLE: Estate Planning for Artists


    The Estate Planning for Artists page covers:
    • Objectives of Estate Planning for Artists
    • Access to Artwork, Paperwork and Digital Files
    • Advice to Artists' Executors and Trustees
    • Resources for Estate Planning for Artists - with specific references to the UK, USA and Australia
    • Examples of sample wills for artists
    Plus links to some very useful books which are resources for those wanting to start planning...

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