I have been in South Africa for the past 7 months and have worked very hard to explore different mediums and different themes. As an artist, we all would like to be discovered and represented. We all have heard of people who made it big after a gallery has discovered them.
It was about 2 years ago while living in Troux Aux Biches, Mauritius that I opened my email and I received the news that we have been noticed and that a gallery in Paris wants 4 of my works for an upcoming exhibition. We were super excited and send them several pictures. They then selected 4 works from the pictures and we shipped the works to Paris. I then appeared in two online French catalogs with my bio in print and it was like a dream come true. My paintings will be hanged in a gallery not far from the Louvre.
We were waiting in anticipation to hear if any collectors would be interested in my work. About 3 weeks after the work arrived we received an email telling us that two of our works have a buyer. It was a dream come true and once the deal is done we must send two more paintings so that there are always 4 paintings in the gallery. But then we were told to list our items in another portal because the client wants to buy these paintings tax-free and this portal is a tax-free portal. The buyer can get a tax rebate when they purchase the paintings here. I then read through the contract and yes it was hidden in the contract.
But then I received an email from another artist who asked me if I have sold any work through this gallery and have I been paid. She then gave me some links to read about this gallery and that is when I started seeing that I might have been duped. They now wanted me to pay Euro 950 to list my items on the site. We really wanted this to work and were very conflicted. We knew that something was amiss but went ahead with the deal anyway. I paid the money and then waited for the sales to happen. Nothing happened. They said that the buyer is still deciding.
I then had some questions and asked for answers and struggled to get an answer by email. I then had my Mauritian friends phone them because of the language barrier. Remember this is a French gallery and my friends in Mauritius speak French. We made several calls and each time we spoke to a different person. And struggled to get answers about how the sales work. My friend told me that is sounded like a call centre where you could hear many voices in the background. That sounded suspicious.
No sale happened and I then realized that this is a new art scam. You contact artists all over the world and get them to send you their art and then you take Euro 950 from each one to start with. And maybe sell a work. But the sales are secondary.
A couple of months later I got a letter to say that they can no longer pay the insurance on my art storage and must come and fetch my paintings. I then wanted to know if they will package them well and help by arranging the shipping. They told me that it is my responsibility to organize this. I asked my courier service to pick up the paintings and I had to pay for the return freight. I received my paintings back and then saw that the original packaging seal has not even been broken. So my paintings were never exhibited and I can just surmise that there were never any collectors interested in my work.
So what did I learn through all this?
- Do your homework first.
- Never send any money for sales. That is definitely a red light when it comes to sales.
- Rather market your work in your immediate vicinity like local galleries where you can visit the gallery and see how your work is exhibited.
After this experience, we started organizing more and more exhibitions with fellow artists in Mauritius. It was a great experience and at each exhibition, we sold a bunch of paintings. I also love online sales. Especially during these Covid times.
I am not naming any names and would answer all your questions when you write a personal message to me.