Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Judith Prowda

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


When balancing the interests of the art market gatekeepers including patrons, dealers, and auction house intermediaries, with the interest of artists, artists have always bared the shorter end of the stick. It has been almost 30 years since the U.S. legal system acknowledged moral rights and a lifetime that artist have had to defend those rights. However, the question remains— how has the art market balanced these conflicting interests and at what expense? This paper will explore the effects moral rights have on an artist’s market and with that, the overall art market. This paper will also cover the ramifications following subsequent disavowal of works deemed prejudicial to the artist’s reputation while exploring the life of a work after it has been removed from art market circulation. The Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA), will be applied in this paper and likened to the doctrine of laches, that is, it will be investigated in terms of artists who are vigilant on exercising their moral rights under VARA in the U.S. and artists who slumber on those rights. This dynamic will be juxtaposed with occurrences that predate VARA to highlight the ramifications of protecting moral rights and the consequences of its absence.