We have been made aware of the growing incidents of fraud perpetrated on artists in the last 12 months. The Internet seems to abetting these schemes by providing an additional layer of distance and anonymity. Perhaps Internet criminals are just getting around to discovering that artists are easy targets. We have been approached by disingenuous solicitations on virtually every social media site we belong to including Esty, Flicker, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Plaxo and more than a few commercial sites who’s member lists have been compromised by hackers.

The “offers” follow a pattern. The artist receives an unsolicited email from a “Gallery, Fashion Consultant, Artist’s Rep,” or any job descriptions that is consistent with the pitch. The writer states that they like the artist’s work very much and have a buyer, or they are planning a big show and are personally inviting the artist to participate. The buyer or show is always of very high status, eg. government official or celebrity, or all the major fashion publications etc. Names proceed to drop out the sky like falling stars.
YOU, of course, will be the biggest star of all. Please send 3-5 pieces of your work plus a small handling fee. But hurry, because if you don’t act right away we will have to give the opportunity to someone. This is always accompanied by a tight deadline for the show or some special event the buyer needs the work for.

What is always missing from these offers is a verifiable address, references, a track record or anything that would give you an indication that the individuals have the connections and experience to deliver on their promises. We have even seen mirage sites set up to support some of the offers but none have stood up to even cursory scrutiny. We’re certain this will change over time. Thieves are clever and they learn quickly.

Our purpose in posting this is to alert other artists who are not aware of these schemes, and to encourage you, the artist community, to share information about the scams that are attempted on you. Knowledge is power.

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I was a victim of art thievery for the first time this year in February 09. The thief portrayed himself as a promotional photo/stage artist for Readers Digest's new magazine Fresh Home. He needed the art right away during photo week in New York. I was to send the art, they'd add it to some modern room set ups and then send the mobile back when done. He said it would have good placement in the magazine and tons of people seeing my work would be great exposure. He even had pdf examples of the page. I had two other photo shoots that week, no problem. I sent his request. A week later I tried emailing, calling.... nothing. My other photo shoot items got bought buy the requesters, which is great. But, this Reader's Digest fako never returned my $325 mobile. I then looked up his name, and it was all over the internet, ART THIEF! Not only me, but lots of other artist had done the exact same thing I did. And were very upset, just like me. On facebook, I told my story of the stolen mobile, how the NY DA could not help, the guy was already in jail. I get a phone call out of the blue in July, it is the thief's wife. She says she has my mobile, but doesn't want to get involved. I asked why she would call, she said she was getting a divorce and even her jewelry was being stolen by her husband and sold behind her back. I guess I was to feel sorry or something. I again tell the story on Facebook, how strange this whole thing is. I ask everyone, "Does anyone know someone in NY that could get my mobile back for me?". One of my husband's good buddies from childhood, says... I know someone.... I'll ask. His friend says sure. I tell him the name and address, and ....THIS GUY KNOWS the thief's wife! Small world. A long story... I got the mobile back... in great shape. Note: don't trust everyone that writes or calls for free requests. Nothing is free.

Having been ripped off by legitimate "gallery" owners (i.e., not paying you when work is sold) I would be careful about blindly sending off my work (& money for a handling fee). no legitimate gallery would ask for money. Artist who are new to being "represented" should be careful & do homework first before. Stealing art from artists is a new low in scams.
Harriete Estel Berman has posted some excellent material on contracts and business dealings with galleries. You may find the information helpful.
Thanks 2 Roses for this advice. In the past couple of years, I have been approached by several bogus offers. If the offer seems to good to be real, proceed carefully. Most likely they are just trying to steal from you, one way or another. Before sending or giving your work to anyone, make sure these people have a verifiable track record.

One time I was even approached by a person who had a whole web site, with images of artwork, and exhibitions, everything that you would expect to see on a gallery web site. For some reason, subtle and hard to decipher why, it didn't seem quite right and I kept investigating. It turned out to be completely fake!

My words of advice..."Believe in your own radar. Your intuition is always right."
I was scammed by two galleries last year. The web searches and references that used to be sufficient for dealing with new retailers are no longer enough in such a desperate economy. One gallery, Twist of My Wrist, was too good to be true and stole $4000. of work from me after closing, promising to return unsold work and pay me, but never did. The owners have now disappeared, so taking legal action is expensive and challenging.

The other gallery, Zaruba and Zaruba has been playing "the check's in the mail" since last December for work they're not sure when they sold. A couple of weeks ago a friend, who lives near there, paid a surprise visit to the gallery and picked up my remaining work, which was all of three pieces. They had sold quite a lot. The latest drama is that a check was to be mailed on the 16th of April. If so, it would likely have been here yesterday or today. If it's not in tomorrow's mail, small claims court here I come.

After decades of dealing with successful galleries, operated by enthusiastic and highly ethical people, like Brigitte, facing the consequences of being scammed by the unethical ones is frustrating and painful. They didn't steal some mass produced product that I buy and resell. They stole things that were part of me. I think of the one-of-a-kind pieces I sent and the days, weeks, and months that went into creating them, and feel a knife twist.

Harriete is right. Go with your gut. Seeing whose work a gallery is carrying isn't enough either. It's best to contact the artists and ask about their experiences with the gallery or website. We need to stick together.
Victoria, thank you for stepping up, sharing your experience, and most of all for naming names. We have heard from a number of artists about problems with Zaruba and Zaruba. This is unfortunate, as they had a very good reputation at one time. Our own experience with them a couple of years ago was good, professional communication and prompt pay. The point is that many artists are reluctant to name the galleries they are having problems with. This helps no one but the very galleries who are practicing bad business. Regarding Small Claims, we have found that just filing the court papers and serving notice often gets thing settled quickly.
Corliss and John, Good to know!

I just received an email, similar to ones I've received in the past, that I thought I should share on this thread. Who knew I was a quilting teacher?!? It's certainly news to me. The last one I got was for a dance teacher. At least that one was plausible.

Greetings,
I found your info while i was searching for a professional Quilting teacher in your area and i want to believe you are a quilting teacher/instructor a reliable one with a
good teaching experience.i have been contracted to book for 10 persons that will be coming from Turkey, they would like to book for 2 weeks lesson for 3 hours each day, Monday to Saturday (morning hours) for a group of 10.

Their age range is 18,20 and the rest 8 are 21 years of age.In case if you are disposed to offer lesson then kindly get back to me with the type you teach along side with the cost.
They are asking for 3 hours per day for 2 weeks - Monday - Saturday. A total
of 28 hrs,while they await their performance within your state.But it is flexible,if you have a better offer they will be arriving on the Date of 18th of June and starting classes by 19th of June till 2nd of July
2010.(Please give me total cost for the period specified including all
applicable taxes).what is your payment options? Hope you accept credit cards?
How ever,am the agent has been contracted for their accommodation and flight logistics.so all am asking of you is to get back to me with the Grand total cost for the whole of their training in your facility for the period
specified.You can call me for further details or by a returning email.
Your prompt reply will be appreciated.
Greg
Cell: +447045-701-499


I'm guessing anyone, who responds, gets a second email asking them to front some of the expense.

Since American culture equates us with being "starving artists" I find it a little strange that we are the new target market, as it were. Who let it slip that we're all really multi-millionaires? ;-)
Victoria, send us "Greg's" email and we will respond. We are curious as to the mechanics of this. More complete information for all of us.
Well i guess i am going to have to Chime in , as far as Zaruba Zaruba is involved. as i wrtite this I have work with them that i am haveing trouble getting back. 20 pcs at very High value. my connection to the gallery was through the martini show I participated in 08 . and based on that great expireince I was in contact with them a while But bever sent them work. i read the positive postings on this show by 2roses and I agreed the same at the time . in hind sight I realise all that was the doing of one person in the Gallery, the show the shipping the excellent comunications , and payments was all thanks to one individual employee who is not there any more, but the owner seems to have used that boat to float his agenda with the artists. useing the eployees good reputation.
My contact was the person and based on that i got ready and sent the work May of 2010, not realising that she had not been with the gallery for almost 10 months ,but the times i tried to contact her ,was told she is out momentarily.
i been in this field for 30+ years and have had my share of this type of behavior. but this was really out of left feild for me since i was going on Doug Zaruba's reutation as a goldsmith. not realising that being a great goldsmith does not make one a good gallery owner ,and practices.
in a way i also found out that it used to be Zaruba gallery, it shut down and opened as Zaruba and Zaruba, the answering recording now says it has changed to vortex 13, leave a message for Andrew or call this other number for vortex 13. as i am going through my stress points I heard enough stories about the Zarubas and the "check is in the mail" that I do kick myself for bothering with this gallery at all. I do very very little consigned work. but at these desperate times we do desperate and stupid things , and these people are counting on that.
I had been calling the gallery since May June, to see how they liked the work , and have had no comunication back . Last I called which was last friday I was told that My work was being packed up for shipping as i was on the phone... at the end of the phone conversation "I feel for ya Buddie" Is what was said to me, I just did not think or feel that that was an appropriate response from the gallery owner .
I just think for all of us in the field it is such a bad bad thing to have to face and deal with, after all the work and labor and creativity you put in your art work try and expose and survive off of it , and then there is this. and the problem that most artists who choose not to talk or name names basically comes from the litigation factor towards/against them if they choose to talk. I kept catching myself saying all I want is the work back, but I guess they have other ideas for them , if they still have any left?
one peice of advice given was to find out what other artists have been burnt by the same gallery , group togehter put out a posting for other artist not to fall in the same pit. we do need to stick togehter on these important points. it has come to a point where you have to be none trusting any gallery till proven otherwise.
in all this I wondered if other feilds like scuplture or pianting fine galleries have these sorts of problems?

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