Dear fellow artists, please be aware that there are people who will try to defraud artists out of their money and their artwork. These people are only interested in money and not in your well loved and worked on paintings.
This is how it played out for me just before Christmas 2018.
I was so pleased to receive an email from a man named PM complimenting me on my artwork.
“Hi, Your work is beautiful, evocative and oh so lyrical….
Your art has the quality of magic and looking at it never gets old!!!! I appreciate your vision and hope to find my own….…keep making magic!!!! I’m PM from Georgia. I would really love to purchase some of your works for my wife as a surprise present regarding our forthcoming 20th anniversary, I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you..Also, kindly email me back with some images and price list of your artworks that is ready for immediate sales within my price range (USD 1,000-15,000). Hope to hear from you soon.”
A little over the top I thought, but I was also confused. How did PM know my work was so magical but he didn’t have a clue where to find it on the Internet?
Although checking, using Google, and inserting my name, images of my work come up, so he may have seen them there.
So I sent PM the link to my website and explained he could buy downloaded prints or purchase the original work. I told him I was living in Italy and he would have to pay for packaging and transport. I suggested it would be easier to buy the digital versions.
PM replied that he was interested in three original artworks.
I wrote that this would cost around USD 1,700 and would not include shipping and handling, I suspected that would be the end of it.
So I was surprised to receive another message where PM wanted to surprise his wife, and as she is the one handling all the finances he wanted to ask a friend to help him by sending a check. He adds that his shipping agent will handle transport of the pieces.
I emailed PM my contact details.
Next PM tells me he thought I was based in America, but that he was already in love with my work. So he asked for a contact in the USA.
I asked a friend who said they would agree to being the intermediary for any transaction, but I was beginning to feel nervous. I mean I am used to receiving and paying using PayPal or a Bank Draft where everything is registered and if the painting does not arrive the client would be covered. I was also suspicious that it seemed this person did not care a fig about whether the work would be crated or wrapped in paper and plastic.
I sent my friend’s work address.
PM writes back to tell me to pay the shipping company, and any IRS from the check. Again I ask if I am to crate the largest work or take it off the stretcher bars and roll it.
PM replies that he wants the painting packed and ready for pick up. I am becoming hysterical at this time because I have not received instructions as to whether I am to roll the large painting or have it crated by one of the courier companies. I also know there is a law covering shipping of any artwork from Italy, which requires forms to be filled out for customs where you attach a photograph of the work and attest to it being a contemporary work by a living artist. It would certainly have helped to know who the shipper was going to be.
I was sent a United States Postal Service tracking number and the link for tracking the check, which I shared with my friend who gets back to me that the check was going in the opposite direction to where they were living.
PM apologised for the shipping error of the first check and said he would send another.
Days later my friend gets back to me and tells me the first USPS envelope was delivered, but the second had been registered as undeliverable. My friend also noted the rough English, which I had chosen to ignore because PM may not have been mother-tongue English, as he wrote that he was returning to Quebec.
My friend sent me a copy of the check and I saw it was written out for an exorbitant amount of money, there were no contact details for the bank or the person writing the check. I had calculated that shipping paintings could have come to no more than USD 500 at the very most, even if they were to be shipped crated by the shipping company.
Again I suggest that the client pay me via PayPal, and spelled out how convenient and safe it is to have everything written out so that any taxes and shipping can be paid for in advance.
We heard nothing more from Mr PM, not least because, after reading the communication on the link below, I blocked him forever.
So, please be aware of who you are dealing with and, if they are not willing to follow clear, open, transparent instructions for purchase, be more intelligent than I was and get out as soon as you begin to feel uncomfortable.