Sunday, 25 October 2020

#Hansford&Sons #emergingartistplatform - Money for Nothing?

The online art market is exploding, and as it does so, individuals eager to part artists with their money are popping up quicker than you can say Eduardo Paolozzi – which most of them can’t. Like any artist who has only been painting with intent since 2018, apart from occasional painting bursts in the kitchen, I have been gratified by having been followed by art magazines and galleries via Instagram, and have had my work picked up for a Dutch website. I have also had a number of online organisations suggest I pay them to repost work on their websites, most of these are badly written, unprofessional and riddled with exclamation marks – a sure sign of what lies beneath, as it were; so when Lauren ‘S’, contacted me to say she loved my work and would I contact her, initially I was sceptical, but given I have not yet got round to getting my own website made,  the option of having my work up on a working website seemed an attractive option.

Hey Emily-Jane

I hope you’re ok!

I really loved your work on your page ๐Ÿ˜ - so amazing!

I’d love to offer you a place on our Emerging Artist Platform ๐ŸŽ‰

I work for Hansford and Sons Fine Art and I’d love you to be part of our team

If you’re interested let me know (I hope you are) and I can send more info! ☺️

Lauren

I looked at the Hansford & Sons Fine Art website, they did indeed appear to be art experts. I asked for more info…

Great! Here’s a little more info for you- It’s so exciting! ☺️What we do is create a page for you on our website (we have 20k unique visitors a month, not to mention our regular buyers) You can never have too much exposure, right? As well as this, we also offer artists the chance to exhibit at many of our exhibitions around the world and virtually. Also, coverage and promotions on all of our social media platforms! It’s really great at the moment ☺️ If you’re interested (which I hope you are) or would like anymore info then I can send you everything you need to know over email including how I can sign you up ☺️

Lauren

I Googled Hansford & Sons and found a ‘gallery’ in Great Portland St. Quelle Impressive! I know the Gt Portland St area well. Gt Portland St tube was my local station for 30 years, and I didn’t know about virtual offices until I began to find out more about Hansford & Sons. I asked for a phone meeting with Lauren, and though I was unsure about how much experience of the art world she had, she was enthusiastic, and so, emojis with heart eyes and the exclamation marks aside, I signed up, and opted for the £49.99 option rather than the £29.99 one, though I realised afterwards that given the uncertainty around the exhibition opportunities for both, the only difference was that I had the opportunity for unlimited uploads, and the commission if I sold anything, would be less - 15% rather than 20%. Incidentally, the artists I’ve spoken to were only charged £29.99, not £49.99.  I have since been sent a screenshot from another artist who recently paid £29.99 for the same commission (15%), so as it turned out I'd had been better off, by £20.00. And I'd be feeling a little less ripped off.

From 

Lauren’s email to me:

There are 2 annual payment options for our services: 

Basic: £29.99 - This will include exhibition opportunities, 5 new uploads per month and 20% commission on artwork sales.

Premium: £49.99 - This will include solo, group and virtual exhibition opportunities, Unlimited uploads, 15% commission on artwork sales.

Before we paid, my husband suggested I contact two friends who buy fine art to look at the company, in particular, my friend who had worked for a fine art shipping company, but unfortunately, I did not get round to that. I should have asked for terms and conditions since none were apparent on the website and Lauren did not provide me with any. I have since asked them on more than one occasion for them, and have yet to receive any. My first warning bell came when I paid my money to an ‘accounts team’ and received no confirmation of payment. I then heard nothing until I contacted Lauren to find out what was happening, whereupon I received a message saying that she had received notification from ‘the accounts team’ that my payment had been made. My page went up just under two weeks later, which is a lot quicker than some of the artists I've spoken to have experienced. Several of them have waited months from payment to page being up. They only seem to action anything if you trigger them - more on triggers, of which there are plenty, later.

At first sight, I was pleased with the way my page looked on the EAP platform, though they had not included some of the information I’d sent: key information that singles you out from the many artists (100s? 1000s?) they are quite possibly signing up, such as my exhibitions and social media details, so that people could look into me off-site. Also one of my paintings was upside down and despite my requests, they did not correct it – or update my details. Further, they had left work I’d sent off with no explanation as to why. I did not hear back from Lauren S or Deeksha H as to why this was when I messaged them. Not responding was, I felt, unprofessional. Deeksha H who put up my work on the EAP website, and made some initial changes, informed me that I could not post unlimited work as they had said when they took my cash, but could submit 5 pieces a week. Despite this being different to what I was told, as outlined above, I was unlikely to submit more work than that, so I was prepared to let it go. As it turned out, I did not actually get to submit any more work, and the first, limited set of work that I initially sent to Lauren to send on to Deeksha H, remained partially there, as did the upside-down painting. I tried, over several weeks, after painstakingly photographing and adding the necessary text for the images, to get the work that was left off up, and the first set of work corrected. I was also told to get further work to 'uploads' before the Wednesday of each week, but I was unable, over a two week period to get an email response from uploads, and seemingly, neither was Lauren when she sent work on for me. The fact that I was unable over two consecutive Wednesdays to get any response from 'uploads' much less any further uploads up at all, didn't bode well for any future transactions.

Had I received a generic message stating they were experiencing delays or some such communication, I would have perhaps been fine, instead I was told by Lauren that they were experiencing 'internet troubles' in ‘their area’- in London?  I’d also looked at some of the work being put up at the actual gallery in Stoney Stratford, Milton-Keynes and at some of the virtual exhibitions that they were putting up. I formed the opinion that some of the work was not really ready to be exhibited. I’d already had enough of EAP’s unprofessionalism and, after talking to another artist, who'd had a worse experience than me, I asked for a refund. Unsurprisingly, nothing much happened. Lauren stated she was ‘on vacation,’ though she seemed to be busy ‘putting up exhibitions’ and so on.  I was told that my refund request would be sent to the director, Jazz Jade and to contact her myself as well. Then the work I had sent went up (though my painting remained upside down and the key information about me remained off) despite my request to cancel my association with them. If this was how they handled my work, how would they handle any potential sales were my work ever be found on their website, amongst the many hundreds of works, unless I directed traffic there? I searched for 10 minutes the one day and found nothing.

During my brief association with them, I was unhappy with the whole Hansford & Sons operation. I would question their art expertise; they do not have an actual gallery in London but Stony the crows, there is a physical gallery Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes that features rolling exhibitions as well as solo virtual exhibitions. These seem to be run on a pot-luck basis. An artist who has shown there told me her work looked fine, though the prices were put up incorrectly. There is a virtual office with a messaging service and phone numbers that were never answered when I rang them. Another artist who exhibited at the Stony Stratford gallery had, as we say in Zimbabwe, one hell of a job trying to get his artwork back. After having difficulty making contact with them, he eventually managed to arrange a courier to go to the gallery to collect his work. In the message stream, I have seen between him and EAP he is advised that if “he needs help finding a cheap courier to let them know.” He duly arranged his own courier, but then spent a protracted period of time trying to engage them in sending his work. He did not hear from them until eventually, Jazz Jade told him that she wasn’t ignoring him, she’d had her bag stolen and that she had “only that day managed to get a new iPhone with a sim card in order to contact him.” I would have thought that any arts business would have a database of clients and not be reliant on one mobile phone's sim card? When his work arrived it was battered and torn, having only been wrapped thinly in bubble wrap with no cardboard. He took several photographs of the damage to his work and also the inadequate packing materials the gallery had used and I include them below.


When he complained, asking why his work had been sent as it was, he was told that he ‘had not paid for cardboard,' and that it was the courier’s fault and to contact them. They also showed him a contract that he says he had never seen nor signed, that they say they gave him at his exhibition. He is currently pursuing a claim through Trading Standards. Unsurprisingly, the artist is very upset and said that galleries usually have plenty of wrapping materials and that it was basic common sense not to send anything valuable with such poor protection. In my last communication with him, he told me that he remains disappointed, and cannot believe they are trying to get away with what they have done.


Hansford & Sons claim to be able to restore artwork, but they haven't offered to help him in any way shape or form. His paintings are now in very bad shape as you can see. He is still trying to get the company to respond to his messages and his requests for compensation. 

Meanwhile, after weeks of failing to contact Jazz Jade, regarding my refund request, I warned her that I was going to take action if they would not communicate with me regarding my refund. At the deadline I had given before I began action against them, I reported them and began contacting other artists to tell them of my disappointment. I also added the links to the howsmydealing website https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/ (a website that catalogues the experiences that some artists have had with galleries and art businesses, including EAP) and to the professional bodies that deal with any possible illegal activities. Jazz Jade then became much more communicative than she had been previously. She sent me 3 lengthy provocative audio messages making comments about my children, my age, my work, and how she speculated I spent my time and what she was going to do. She said I would be hearing from her lawyers, for, what she claimed was, ‘defamation of character,’ if I did not stop telling other people about my experiences with EAP. I told Jazz Jade that I would not be silenced and repeated my request for a refund. The audio messages were deleted before I could play them to my husband that evening, but I have quite a few written messages in a similar vein in my possession. Take this one for example regarding the money I’d paid them to be on their site for the ten days I was up before I requested a refund. 

Wed, 7 Oct, 15:56  

 to me

“Darling your £50 wouldn’t even pay for my dog food... let alone my petrol. I have made great things happen for many artists and I’m so Jolly because despite your claims I will continue to do so! 

Make sure you fill out that form, that’s what you need to do try and get that £50 quid.” 

Good Luck! 

Here is the refund page to which she refers, which I filled out in detail, I included details of all the audio and written abuse I had received.www.emergingartistplatform.com/account-actions 

After giving my reasons for requesting a refund, I was told this by Jazz Jade: 

“Thank you for your comments but I do not need to take advise (her Misspelling) for a clearly begrudging individual. Your evidently desirous of the opportunities other artists on the platform have and this envy is causing you to be deliberately uncooperative.”

Of course, were I desirous of these ‘opportunities,’ I would have stuck around for longer than 10 days (not taking into account time between paying and actually being up on the platform). 

Jazz Jade

Apart from her interesting approach to business, Jazz Jade seems to have several personas. She advertises herself by turns as ‘the CEO’ ‘CHAIRWOMAN’, ‘ART APPRAISALS’ & ‘HEAD OF EMERGING ARTIST PLATFORM.’ She is also known as The Director of Hansford & Sons. Those capital letters are from the Hansford&Sons site, but the addresses given for Hansford & Sons in the capital of the UK appear to be postal or 'virtual offices, and, as I mentioned, any London gallery does not seem to exist. The Great Portland Street address looks to be a postal address. Her style of communicating to artists that EAP scout and whose work they appear to enthuse over and advertise that they want to help is unusual: “Did you think I was going to make you Pickarso,” she said to me on one of the audio messages. On her Instagram page (Missartcurator) Jazz Jade posts photograph after photograph of fine art, with comments such as:

missartcurator

“Stunning artwork unique piece from” #rogerhilton 

“This #sculpture is beautiful unique piece by” #albertogiacometti

“Astonishing piece of artwork from the great artist of all time #pablopicasso 

“Fantastic work from” #sandrabotticelli 

Botticelli might turn in his 510-year-old grave. May I suggest the nom de plume, Missrepresentor?



Hansford & Sons Website

I took a closer look at Hansford & Sons, the people they say work for them and their social media sites. The text on the H&S site is inconsistent, and some of it is identical to that on other art sites. The badly and error-ridden text littered with exclamation marks appears to be theirs. The rest gives a misleading impression, for example, if you click on ‘artists’ you will see people like Peter Blake, Barbara Hepworth and John Hoyland advertised to look as though they represent these artists, or at least, that they are in fact, bona fide, experts. But anyone would be bonkers to imagine the young women that work for Jazz Jade represent these world-class, famous artists. Their 'headquarters in Bloomsbury Way,' is shared with 820 other companies, given they are virtual offices that anyone can inexpensively hire. Here is what they claim about themselves:

They do have an extensive history of identifying emerging art pieces that appears to be getting more and more extensive and widespread as the volume of artists who have their details on their Instagram pages reveals. It is the manner of the identification procedure that I would question. They claim to have an ethos too, that in my opinion and experience, exceeds any realm of possibility.


They do indeed keep abreast of things, in terms of having identical wording to other Fine Art websites, that they attribute to themselves. Take this for instance, a page with identical wording to one on Momart’s website: 

And from Momart's website page: https://www.momart.com/services/art-storage I contacted Momart, who thanked me and said that they will be taking action.

Though they cannot manage any form of communication, they claim to be able to manage and catalogue art collections.


The video of the team (as in accounts, finance etc.,) could, I suspect, have been taken from stock photos. A number of people search the internet for new subscribers, apparently from their bedrooms. I researched all the staff there, and the only one that can be actualised is Jazz Jade. Matt exists, though he does not appear to work for the company anymore. Lauren, Misha, Ginny and Sarah et al, do not appear as members of ‘the team,’ though they apparently are, and have appeared at Hansford & Sons’ gallery in Middleton Stoney. Photographs on the Hansford & Sons website also look to having been taken from a stock photo library or other websites. I found the 'framing' section, to be particularly interesting. 

As for the #emergingartistwebsite, this is what they say about themselves: 



I believe that anyone who is prepared to pay the subscription fee can sign up. There is no handpicking. I believe the reason EAP ‘take care of promotion and sales’ is so that potential clients do not make contact with artists, for reasons that some artists are discovering.


An artist on the howsmydealingwebsite https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/#comment-27801 wrote how they only discovered they had sold work when the person who said they had bought their art from EAP/H&S tracked them down to ask where the work they bought was. I’ve spoken to an artist who is many hundreds of pounds out of pocket. There are no testimonials on their website from happy customers, nor artists who have actually sold work, only subscribers who perhaps hope to be featured in the Stony Stratford gallery and notably, not one of them speaks of having actually sold any work. None of the many artists I have spoken to in connection with the platform have sold work and been paid for it. I know two of the artists on that Testimonial page. One is taking action against them. Another has expressed dismay at what he has since found out. Another artist friend was asked for a testimonial, she has since asked for her page to be taken down. These appear to have gone up since I joined; a system of damage control? 

Lucian Hector

Another person linked to Hansford & Sons according to information registered to at Companies House, is Lucian Hector, who is named as company director. Lucian Hector appears to have been involved with a number of companies. The bank I paid my subscription to is in Luxembourg. They also claim to know insurers in Switzerland. Why Switzerland? There are lots of ‘Independent Partners.’


Two of Lucian Hector’s former companies have been dissolved. Did the companies owe money? There was a business called Trust No One, which was registered to an address in Chiswick High Road. Another is called Power to Art, registered to an address in Woking which seems to be the only actual address - to a flat in Woking. On LinkedIn, Lucian Hector says he was educated in the Virgin Islands and has a Minor in Fine Art. This quote is also from his Linked In page: ‘'Others Have Seen What It Is And Asked Why. I Have Seen What It Could Be And Asked Why Not” - Pablo Picasso. He also happens to have the same name as the famous artist, Lucian Hector Jonas. Apparently, he also had links with a company called Mr Reem in Montpelier St in London. I wonder if the gallery in Stoney Stratford is in good financial order?



My hunch is that Lucian Hector, Jazz Jade and no surnames and co. are trying to get as many artists as possible to pay subscription fees. I wonder about the emergingartisplatform's "20k unique visitors a month, not to mention our regular buyers," that Lauren told me about. There is a section on their website for Middle Eastern Investors. “We Believe Opening Up This Side of The Art Market and Making Middle Eastern Cultures Aware That There Is Money To Be Made By Investing Into Post War Modern British Art.” But there is money there, and they want some of it, though I doubt they’ll be seeing much of it despite their 'deep understanding they has carved out,' (sic.) People with the kind of cash they hope for would go straight to Christie’s, for example, unless they’re daft, which I think not. But then I don’t claim to be an expert despite having actually studied art

Hansford & Sons don't, in my opinion, live up to their claim to be experts. I’ve been in touch with multiple artists who have grievances with EAP. There are artists whose clients did not receive work they paid for and artists who were not paid for work sold. I did finally discover an artist who lives near the Milton Keynes gallery, who has sold work after exhibiting there, and been paid for work sold. I asked her if she has proof as to whether the clients actually received her work. She did not reply. It’s easier for unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of artists living abroad or further away. When artists have tried to get recompense they are likely to get the same reaction I did. Indeed an artist that is owed money was also told, as I was, that she would be done 'for defamation of character,' after a number of false accusations were made about them (the artist). An artist I know has been left suffering from anxiety and stress and another wept when they saw the condition of returned work. Given the £30/£50 per subscription, not many would take their cases to court. Others are in a far worse boat than me as I think I have illustrated. It seems immoral to me, and quite possibly illegal. Hansford & Sons (who the deuce are the ‘sons’? Answer: There are none; daughters would have been a better noun,) are canny in that they have a small gallery in a nondescript part of England and they provide a ‘service’ of sorts. I received a sympathetic email from Trading Standards, so they are aware of them, as are the police, but I will update them now that I have received an update on my refund from them, (see below) but given this is deemed a ‘business to business’ transaction there is not much that can be done in my, comparatively mild case, though no-one enjoys spending money and getting nothing for that money, and being treated as I have outlined to boot. These are Jazz Jade's responses to my refund request:

"Your refund request has been denied. You will be receiving an email shortly explaining the reasons for our decision, so kindly pass that on to ‘trading standards’. Best Wishes" (No name as to who sent this but I’m guessing Jazz sent it). 

Late last Saturday night, I received a list of reasons as to why my refund was being denied. I was told my reasons for requesting a refund were all 'false or sophistry' though I simply outlined my experience for which I have all the emails and messages. Various untrue accusations were made about me as well as threats. Other artists have received similar responses and accusations when making complaints. Just to be clear, I have not bullied any staff, unless politely requesting a refund is considering bullying.

PLEASE NOTE

This decision is final and if ANY of our team members receive any form of contact from you we will be reporting you to the police for harassment. Bullying of our staff WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Yours Sincerely

Julian 

EAP (All capital letters are EAPs; my guess is 'Julian' is another of Jazz Jade's personas)

Many subscribers come from abroad, where it is harder to seek recompense or refunds for stolen work or fees not paid to artists and clients. From what I understand, some artists in the UK aren’t having much luck either retrieving refunds or getting paid for work sold. However, if enough affected artists report Hansford & Sons/EAP to the police via Action Fraud, and to other relevant professional bodies, they might eventually be compelled to act. I wrote this to expose Hansford & Sons for who I feel they really are and because I have been in contact with artists who are very upset about it indeed. I hope other artists might be saved the stress I've suffered during this experience and all the time it has taken up. Artists abroad who think they have representation via experts from London should investigate further. A fine idea they may well be getting about the UK art market.

Sadly, art scams are becoming more and more prolific. An artist friend whom I met researching Hansford & Sons has experienced dubious operations in London, Portugal and the USA. Her advice is to always check the fine print EAP, I have not seen any. Never pay to display, particularly when commissions, sometimes as much as 30% are on top. Never send work anywhere unless money has cleared in the bank.  Also beware of 'vanity galleries,' or publications that offer to advertise you; they are looking for you to pay for advertising space. Agora and Vogue amongst them. My advice? Bide your time, hone your craft and wait until you are ready to show - be clear-eyed about where you are, and about the art market in general. If you’re asked to pay, stay away. Can you imagine any legitimate gallery in London asking you to pay a fee to show your work? Meanwhile, as artists, we need to spread the word. The fact that Hansford & Sons/EAP repost work on Instagram and have ‘virtual galleries’ and a gallery in Milton Keynes, may well be enough for some artists desperate to get a foothold in a saturated market, but artists, do you want people who misrepresent themselves to represent you?

Please see this site for more information: https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/

confidential.com

If you have been affected by any art scams please contact:

Action Fraud 

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Metropolitan Police

https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/

Insolvency Service 

https://www.insolvencydirect.bis.gov.uk/externalonlineforms/CompanyComplaint.aspx?fbclid=IwAR3YGXu5A4g3YpECtpYRpmTQQQ7PvpVqfYIODOQ5RdpJOsAog4jiOU6BzdA

Court Action can be taken here: https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money

I can be contacted here: www.emilybarroso.com

Twitter @emilybarroso1

Instagram for more updates on art news @emilyjanehillman