Artist sues Gallery owner for selling work without compensation
A Cautionary Tale for Artists Loaning Work for Display and Sale…
Two weeks ago, Channel 2 shot video as investigators pulled computers and financial records out of the gallery on West Peachtree Street. (Image and caption courtesy of http://www.wsbtv.com/)
Artist Alexandria Smith -vs- Gallerist Reginald Ingraham
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
I am an artist-activist that publishes an art periodical for visual artists to have an independent voice, a ‘platform’. Sometimes the voice is ‘art’ and sometimes it’s the ‘business of art’. This letter is about the unethical business practices of gallerist Reginald Ingraham that I fear becoming more commonplace in our art community. I’m talking about ‘theft’ of an artist’s works in exhibition or on loan. A WTF disgusting trend that seems to be gaining momentum-unpunished, but I feel not for long, with the indictment of Bill Lowe to lead by example. (http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/buckhead-art-dealer-indicted-conspiracy-theft-char/nnbGy/) Bill Lowe and Reginald Ingraham both sold an artist’s work with the artist not being paid, and or works on loan for exhibition, never returned.
In September 2012 artist Alexandria Smith exhibited at Reginald Ingraham’s LA gallery in Chinatown. It’s been 3 years and Alexandria has not been PAID for her artworks sold and artworks never returned that were unsold. The work is apparently locked away at Reginald Ingraham’s storage space in Los Angeles?! To date (3 years) Reginald Ingraham has offered nothing but excuses, one after the other, leaving Alexandria feeling taken advantage of and disrespected with no affordable or accessible recourse known available to her.
A serendipitous brief encounter in New York put us face to face. Alexandria asked me to assist her in the return of her artwork and I agreed to help her right this wrong.
Gallerist Reginald Ingraham should be held accountable for his actions. He is wrong and should not be rewarded for his greed, dishonesty and blatant contempt for artists including Alexandria Smith with continued support from unsuspecting artists and collectors.
Alexandria Smith will consult an attorney in filing criminal and civil charges against Gallerist Reginald Ingraham for non-payment of sold works and the illegal confiscation of works not sold or returned to her.
The FACTUAL & TRUTHFUL accusations in Alexandria Smith’s own words.
July of 2012, Reginald Ingraham emailed me and shared he was an admirer of my work. He then made me aware of his previous experience as a curator and gallery owner. He stressed the importance of visibility for black artists and gave the impression he wanted to be a beacon of light, a strong platform in the art world. Then he asked to mount a solo exhibition of my work for the grand reopening of his gallery in Los Angeles. I was worried about the timing, but couldn’t pass up what seemed like an incredible opportunity. We agreed to a solo exhibition of my work for the period of September 13th – October 20, 2012. Our agreement called for a 60/40 sales split in which I would receive 60% and he would receive 40%. In addition, we agreed to split the costs of shipping my works to Los Angeles and back to New York. Reginald would retain my work for 6 months after the show closed and any unsold work would be returned after that period.
It is now September 2015 and I have endured years of verbal abuse from Reginald concerning the return of my work and monies from sales. I have experienced a range of inappropriate and disrespectful behaviors including: being hung up on in the midst of phone correspondence, berated, or ignored each time I have tried to contact him. He has provided multiple excuses as to why there is an active THREE YEAR DELAY of the return of my artwork and payment for sales, all of which followed with another empty promise that he would return my work.
The unfair abuse and treatment of myself (and other artists) by Reginald Ingraham has gone on too long. To date, Reginald has 14 of my works in his possession unless he sold them ALL without my knowledge; paintings, collages and small drawings made from 2010-2012 totaling an exact amount of $25,440. I have received a mere 8% of the sales in payment since 2012. The current situation is unprofessional, hurtful and exhausting. I simply want my work back and sales owed to me.
Earlier this year in March, Reginald phoned me after ignoring my calls for a year with two propositions for a resolution. One, that he would send me the remaining artwork back and we could call it “even” in regards to the money he owed me, IF I mounted another solo exhibition at his gallery in which he would cover all costs. The second option was that he would return my work to me and we would work out a payment plan. He would pay an agreed-upon amount of money per month for the money he owed me. Of course, I opted for the latter. To this day, I haven’t received any payments from Reginald, nor have I received any of my artwork.
Over the years, I have been surprised by additional information about sales from my 2012 exhibit. A collector who purchased a painting from Reginald exclaimed how excited they were to be able to finally meet me after enjoying the painting they purchased that is hanging in their home. Meanwhile, I wasn’t aware of this sale nor had I received my percentage in payment of the sale.
I have decided to speak out as the first artist to show with Reginald after his reopening and subsequent relocations because multiple artists have fallen victim to him and his pitch, not just me. Reginald preys on emerging artists who largely don’t have gallery representation and are eager for the opportunity to show on the west coast. Many of the artists he takes advantage of are wooed by his mission statement, in which he claims to be an advocate and supporter of black artists. This is exactly how, like many others, he reeled me in. I was fooled.
I refuse to be silent and stand by while artists continue to be preyed on, victimized, manipulated and scammed by Reginald Ingraham. I know for a fact that I am not the only artist that has been victimized by Mr. Ingraham. I hope that many others whose work he illegally holds in his possession and/or who haven’t received their percentage of sales will come forward so that we can finally put an end to his manipulation and offensive business practices. Legal action is necessary to right Reginald Ingraham’s many harmful wrongs.
Thank you for your continued support.