$20 Million Giclee Printer Art Fraud Racket
I planned on reporting on ArtExpo with my first post after the inaugural post, but with another mention of this story, I have to go with it.
Last month, I noted an article in the Petaluma, California Argus-Courier. I have been busy on some other projects and wanted to wait till this blog was up and running to mention it. Seems that Kristine Eubanks, who has been printing fine art giclees in California for many years is in serious hot water for fraud, tax evasion and other crimes. Every artist I knew that dealt with her found her at the least difficult and at worst not trustworthy. Seems they were correct in their perception. Read this story to learn how she bilked a now deceased artist and his widow in several ways:
Today’s headlines bring on yet more news about Eubanks and her accomplice, Gerald Sullivan. They weren’t just ripping off single artists, they were publishing fake prints by everyone’s favorite knockoffs, Picasso, Chagall and Dali. Read this to learn more about how these crooks were making fake prints and selling them on a cable TV show called Fine Art Treasures.
If it weren’t hard enough to sell art legitimately, scumbags like this make it all the more difficult. The buzz in the past year has been about the increased competition for illegal copies coming from Asian markets. If you are one who worries about such things, you can add crooked giclee printers to your list. My advice on the Asian counterfeiters is stay ahead of them with fresh design, copyright everything worth defending with the US copyright office and then let it go. Regarding crooked printers, they are the minority for sure. To be safe, learn the names of artists who are already working with the printer you have in mind. Insist on getting the phone numbers and call them up. Ask others related to the field who are in a position to know. Sales reps are always a good source.
I had a dilemma when artists asked me about Eubanks Finer Image services. That was due to her advertising with me in Decor magazine and taking space in the Decor Expo tradeshows. It’s not nice to dump on an advertiser. On the other hand, I’d heard enough rumors to know that despite her lowball prices it wasn’t a good shop to do business with. I did my best to tactfully steer artists to shops I knew were reputable. However, if I were asked point blank, I’d refer the artist to former customers who I knew would not speak kindly of Eubanks. Still, I never realized she was a crook, I just thought she was a lousy business person with a bad attitude.
Don’t let the negativity around these things get you down. You have to choose what you let affect you and how you react to the news. Get enough of a dose to make you careful, but not so much you get your dauber down. There are sales waiting to be made and distribution channels open to be explored. Keep that in mind and use Ronald Reagan’s maxim for dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev when dealing with anyone who can mess with your business. Reagan’s sage advice was, “Trust, but verify.”