The amount owing artists totals approx $150,000. WOW! That's
a ton of money owed. If that gallery was doing so well, why did it
have to close? I own a gallery, and we make a thousand a month (on
good months) So, I don't have a lot of sympathy . . what went
Interesting point! If the gallery sold $150k they would have earned
$80k themselves, so why DID it close?
They'd recently attempted an outlet in Sydney, called Galley VC.
That's what soaked up the funds. They underestimated how well they'd
do there. Plus it was (we found out much later) a Limited Liability
Company, so they freely used artists' money there then closed the
shop and walked away from it. However none of the artists were
informed of this Ltd Co status!
I'd like to hear from any Sydneysiders about whether they have any
experiences of Gallery VC, 35 William Street, Paddington, Sydney.
So the estimation of $150k is spread over approx 20+ artists. And
it's from sales spread out over several months. You see as a
consignment gallery they were able to fudge the sales dates, and move
a sale from one month over to another, meanwhile using the funds. So
when (for instance) an artist calls and says 'please return my work
as over the last 3 months it has not sold', their response was, 'no
please leave it here as in fact actually just this month 7 pieces
sold and a payment is due to you on the 20th of next month'.
So they were in control of the 'when' of each sale.
Then when the promised payment did not materialize, with further
prompting for payment they would say well actually times are
difficult at the moment what with 9/11(!), SARS and so on, we don't
think we can pay you this month.
THAT'S when we smelled the rat. They were apparently using artists'
moneys from consignment sales to run the gallery. Or for business
trips. When pressed about this they would say, 'of course not! that's
NOT the way we do business!' When pointed out that in this one
admitted case of late payment that they were advocating it, they
claimed well yes but it's an ISOLATED INCIDENT.
Other artists travelled down there especially to uplift their work
and demand payments, and many were greeted with tears and apologies
and sob-stories and pleas of 'please leave the work here so we can
trade out of our dificulties', and in one case at least the artist
left the work with them and relaxed the demand for payment. Only to
regret that back home the next day.
Remember the gallery owners were considered by a majority of artists
(ourselves included) to be friends and had been friends for some
years. We wanted to support them, and expected reciprocal
support/transparency over our payments.
As it turns out various artists were fed what amounts to an
orchestrated litany of misover several months, and it
wasn't until they closed the gallery and said there's no money for us
that we are getting legal representation and are hoping to threaten
bankruptcy and/or criminal proceedings.