Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Bill or Contract of Sale

Although it is usually a good idea, the bill or contract of sale is under-used in transactions between artists and purchasers. It indicates the terms of the sale, whether conditional or unconditional, and protects the artist’s interests, especially where artists’ resale rights are in force.

The bill of sale must include:
  • The date of sale
  • The place of sale
  • The title of the work
  • The description of the work: medium, dimensions, size of edition, and other relevant information
  • The name and address of the purchaser
  • The artist’s name and address
  • The purchase price
  • The term of payment


The above sets out the date, the place, the purchase price and the terms of payment of this contract of sale of the mentioned art works. However, in order to protect the future existence and use of the work, the parties may further mutually agree:

  • Originality: The artist vows that the work is his/her original and that s/he shall not produce a replica of it.
  • Edition: If the work is one of an edition, the artist vouches that the size of edition shall not be increased after the date of the contract.
  • Reproduction: The copyright in the work is retained by the artist, but the buyer may be entitled to permit the reproduction of the work in books, art magazines and exhibition catalogues.
  • Care of the work: The buyer vows not intentionally to alter, damage or destroy the work during the time of ownership.
  • Restoration: If the work is damaged, the buyer shall notify the artist and give the artist a reasonable opportunity to conduct, or supervise, the restoration of the work.
  • Artist's exhibition: The buyer and artist may agree to the owner lending the work (e.g., once in every twelve months for a maximum period of six weeks) for the purpose of inclusion in a public exhibition of the artist's works. The artist must give the owner reasonable written notice of his intention. The artist must provide documentary evidence of insurance coverage and prepaid carriage to and from the exhibition. The artist must ensure that the exhibiting institution identifies the work as belonging to the buyer.
  • Placement of work: If the buyer places the work with any person or institution for exhibition, re-sale, or any other purpose, the buyer shall immediately write to the artist stating where the work is placed. This is especially important in jurisdictions where artists’ resale rights exist.
  • Addresses: Artist and buyer shall notify each other in writing immediately of any change of address.