California Civil Code Section 986
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California Laws > Civil Code > California Civil Code Section 986
986. (a) Whenever a work of fine art is sold and the seller resides
in California or the sale takes place in California, the seller or
the seller's agent shall pay to the artist of such work of fine art
or to such artist's agent 5 percent of the amount of such sale. The
right of the artist to receive an amount equal to 5 percent of the
amount of such sale may be waived only by a contract in writing
providing for an amount in excess of 5 percent of the amount of such
sale. An artist may assign the right to collect the royalty payment
provided by this section to another individual or entity. However,
the assignment shall not have the effect of creating a waiver
prohibited by this subdivision.
(1) When a work of fine art is sold at an auction or by a gallery,
dealer, broker, museum, or other person acting as the agent for the
seller the agent shall withhold 5 percent of the amount of the sale,
locate the artist and pay the artist.
(2) If the seller or agent is unable to locate and pay the artist
within 90 days, an amount equal to 5 percent of the amount of the
sale shall be tranferred to the Arts Council.
(3) If a seller or the seller's agent fails to pay an artist the
amount equal to 5 percent of the sale of a work of fine art by the
artist or fails to transfer such amount to the Arts Council, the
artist may bring an action for damages within three years after the
date of sale or one year after the discovery of the sale, whichever
is longer. The prevailing party in any action brought under this
paragraph shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees, in an amount
as determined by the court.
(4) Moneys received by the council pursuant to this section shall
be deposited in an account in the Special Deposit Fund in the State
(5) The Arts Council shall attempt to locate any artist for whom
money is received pursuant to this section. If the council is unable
to locate the artist and the artist does not file a written claim for
the money received by the council within seven years of the date of
sale of the work of fine art, the right of the artist terminates and
such money shall be transferred to the council for use in acquiring
fine art pursuant to the Art in Public Buildings program set forth in
Chapter 2.1 (commencing with Section 15813) of Part 10b of Division
3 of Title 2, of the Government Code.
(6) Any amounts of money held by any seller or agent for the
payment of artists pursuant to this section shall be exempt from
enforcement of a money judgment by the creditors of the seller or
(7) Upon the death of an artist, the rights and duties created
under this section shall inure to his or her heirs, legatees, or
personal representative, until the 20th anniversary of the death of
the artist. The provisions of this paragraph shall be applicable only
with respect to an artist who dies after January 1, 1983.
(b) Subdivision (a) shall not apply to any of the following:
(1) To the initial sale of a work of fine art where legal title to
such work at the time of such initial sale is vested in the artist
(2) To the resale of a work of fine art for a gross sales price of
less than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(3) Except as provided in paragraph (7) of subdivision (a), to a
resale after the death of such artist.
(4) To the resale of the work of fine art for a gross sales price
less than the purchase price paid by the seller.
(5) To a transfer of a work of fine art which is exchanged for one
or more works of fine art or for a combination of cash, other
property, and one or more works of fine art where the fair market
value of the property exchanged is less than one thousand dollars
(6) To the resale of a work of fine art by an art dealer to a
purchaser within 10 years of the initial sale of the work of fine art
by the artist to an art dealer, provided all intervening resales are
between art dealers.
(7) To a sale of a work of stained glass artistry where the work
has been permanently attached to real property and is sold as part of
the sale of the real property to which it is attached.
(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the
(1) "Artist" means the person who creates a work of fine art and
who, at the time of resale, is a citizen of the United States, or a
resident of the state who has resided in the state for a minimum of
two years .
(2) "Fine art" means an original painting, sculpture, or drawing,
or an original work of art in glass.
(3) "Art dealer" means a person who is actively and principally
engaged in or conducting the business of selling works of fine art
for which business such person validly holds a sales tax permit.
(d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1977, and
shall apply to works of fine art created before and after its
(e) If any provision of this section or the application thereof to
any person or circumstance is held invalid for any reason, such
invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or applications of
this section which can be effected, without the invalid provision or
application, and to this end the provisions of this section are
(f) The amendments to this section enacted during the 1981-82
Regular Session of the Legislature shall apply to transfers of works
of fine art, when created before or after January 1, 1983, that occur
on or after that date.
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Last modified: October 1, 2013