There was a time when artists led architects by the nose. Then they became partners. Then architects started getting sniffy, preferring a heat-recovery system to an abstract mother and child in the foyer. Now artists are drawing ahead again, as fast as a power boat overtaking the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.
First it was one per cent for art - a plea that sounded modest enough - but then the stakes got higher. Now artists don't just want an automatic slice of every construction pie, they want a royalty on every sale of their work, even after they are dead. Compare this with your unlimited liability, even after you are dead! There's only only one word to describe it. Unfair.
But what can you do? Well you could try sleeping with the enemy more often. Go out of your way to make friends with artists who might mention your name at Downing Street soirees, or at one of those rum, bum and the lash dinner parties they go to to. But personally I don't think that works. It's no good trying to make friends with artists any more; they are on such a power trip that they don't even notice you exist.
Better by far to counter-attack. Forgery is their weakness. The guilty secret behind the whole tyranny of art is that it is really the mass production of fakes. It's not just the odd Picasso tea towel, nor the regrettable case of Salvador Dali signing blank sheets of paper for money. It's the billion-dollar industry that, like welfare scrounging, is invisible but all around you.
Consider some recent cases, not including the infamous Mr Drewe, who was sent down for masterminding 200 forgeries of modern works last month.
Believe me, the list is endless. Before him came the auction-room valuers who were suckers for week-old plaster busts aged with tea bags and cigarette ash. And before them the 'picture restorers' who destroyed 80 per cent of Leonardo's The Last Supper. And before that was the scandal of the new Paris museum devoted to Toulouse-Lautrec whose exhibits were claimed by experts to be all forgeries. And before that was the discovery that only 35 of the claimed 800 Rembrandts in circulation around the world are genuine, that 18 highly valued Van Goghs are actually fakes (which ones?), and that one in every three Lowrys brought to auction is a forgery.
Then there was the case of the Antiques Roadshow valuer who put a price of £6000 on a Picabia that turned out to be one of 70 circulating copies of the same drawing made by an architectural draughtsman from Hampshire (another dab hand with the steam kettle and tea bag), who asked for 400 other cases to be taken into consideration. The list really is endless.
So fight back. The next time a client looks aghast when you proudly show him the minimalist interior of his new black glass atrium, and mumbles something about buying a big Dobrowolski print of a tank camouflaged with Constable landscapes to 'brighten it up', just coolly rejoin: 'Sure, provided they are real Constable landscapes.'
That should do the trick.