The Van Gogh Doctrine: An Artist’s Legacy


October 5, 2017 | BY Charles Aames Bautista

Who said being an artist is not a lucrative career option?


From the 80’s until early 2000’s in the Philippines, children were raised to be very pragmatic in choosing their careers. Most parents pushed their children in business, law, medicine, accountancy, architecture, engineering or more lucrative professions hailed culturally as the top career options. Being an artist was considered as a pipe dream and generally discouraged unless an earlier promise was shown at a younger age. Even then, the common turn of phrase was “walang pera diyan!” Intellectual Property practitioners would soon beg to differ.

Under Article 200 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, “In every sale or lease of an original work of painting or sculpture or of the original manuscript of a writer or composer, subsequent to the first disposition thereof by the author, the author or his heirs shall have an inalienable right to participate in the gross proceeds of the sale or lease to the extent of five percent (5%). This right shall exist during the lifetime of the author and for fifty (50) years after his death." 

This means that the artist doesn’t just make money from the transfer of ownership from himself to the first buyer, but he is also entitled to a piece of the gross proceeds of subsequent sale or lease of his work; and not just the artist, but also his heirs up to 50 years after his death.


Unlike copyright and trademark licensing where the copyright or trademark owner makes money from the issuance of licensing agreements, this provision directly grants the artist passive revenue on subsequent sales.

For budding artists, it may not be that much. The reason some Intellectual Property practitioners refer to it as the Van Gogh doctrine because this right is quite beneficial once the value of the artwork starts to increase incrementally like Van Gogh’s works which are now auctioned and leased for millions of dollars.

The next challenge then is increasing the value of your artwork. Check out our feature on how the value of art appreciates over time.