Artists are facing a brush in court over the terms of their specialist pension fund.
Several leading artists are mounting a legal challenge against the Artist Pension Trust because they want back art works signed over to the fund.
The Artist Pension Trust aims to provide financial security in retirement to artists who struggle to pay their bills and cannot afford to save for a pension.
Instead of setting aside cash for their old age, the trust’s 2,000 or so members hand over a piece of art which is stored or loaned to exhibitions by the trust.
The trust started in 2004 and now holds one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the world comprising around 13,000 works.
Group action by artists
The works are drip-fed on to the market, with 40% of the sale proceeds going to the artist, 32% to other artists in the trust with the rest kept by the trust for paying running costs and $32 million of loans from backers.
But some artists want to withdraw from the scheme and are demanding their works back.
Their complaint is the many are making money from the few and the trust is making too much profit from art sales.
Artists have started a group action to leave the scheme and to demand the return of their pieces. The group APR Artist Solidarity on Facebook claims to have almost a thousand members.
Negative minority accused
A spokesman for the trust said: “We’ve heard nothing about a group action. Most of the artists are very pleased with the way APT is run. It’s a minority that’s very negative in its approach. A loud minority that is voicing their frustration or anger, and I’m not sure it’s warranted.”
He also explained the model works as artists who have not sold works have received money.
The scheme is designed so artists hand over one work a year for 20 years as retirement savings while sharing in the profits as pieces by their contemporaries are sold.
Six months ago, the trust faced another artist revolt over proposals to charge a $6.50 a month fee for each work held for an artist. After protests, the plan was dropped.
Some artists pointed out that the cost was exorbitant, as the levy would raise more than $1 million a year.