Sunday, August 28, 2011

IRENE... not so art related, but fun perhaps

When everyone was worrying and working on getting ready for the big hurricane to hit NYC, I remembered my days in Florida when we were so used to hurricane warnings and watches that
we mostly stocked up on beverages and called our friends to organize a hurricane party. That was because we had a free day off work.  As it turns out, that is how this one was for NYC.   I did the usual, stocked up on water and wine and put a big bucket of water in my bathtub and listened to the news of approaching doom so to speak. Now,  I own a business in New York, La Mano Pottery, (,  which is in a basement and floods if someone spits in the Chelsea neighborhood.  My partner, Julie,  and I went to build dams and battened down the hattches so to speak.    On the way I took some photos of other folks preparations... I am going to try to attach some of them  Some are very creative.  Since it was sort of dark and rainy forgive the less than techincal photography taken with a low level camera on the run in the rain.    I will also try to attach some of the day after images.  

After listening to NPR until late I went to sleep then woke up at 3:50 to a torrent of rain that was coming in my open window and trying to get me wet.  Since there didn't seem to be any other danger, I didn't even close the window and went back to sleep. When I finally got up and surveyed the damage.  I had two big leaks.  I also took photos of those, but I'll spare you the ugly details of that.  Those are for the building's management company.   I am happy to report that the dams we built in the pottery studio did well and nothing flew about in the yard.  so that is a good story. 

All was well so my friend Emily and I went out to breakfast and then since church was cancelled went to the local Friend's bar.  It was packed.   no photos to incriminate the attendees. 

Stay dry.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The End of the Scam

The check came!  On Friday
It looked perfect.  Cashiers check written on Wells Fargo Bank for 5 times as much as it should have been. 

I took it to Wachovia Bank and asked if they would cash a Wells Fargo check and they would.  I went to the teller and presented it with my ID.  Everything was going fine, much to my surprise.....  then they scanned it. ooops...  then they manually entered the numbers, oops again.  With great apologies they said they had to call the central registry.  They did and with great concern they came over to me giving me a copy of the check and said,  " We are so sorry to tell you this isn't a good check."  I asked if I could have it back and they said no they had to keep it because it was counterfeit.  

This relieved me of feeling any responsibility to report it to the authorities, as I was sure they would.  I didn't email Kathy back until Sunday, when I told her the Royalpost envelope had come and I would deal with the
bank on Monday.   She (?) emailed me about it several times before then.   On Monday, the 31st, I decided I'd had enough fun.  I emailed her that the check was for too much money so I sent back to her N.J.
address.  If she wanted the paintings to let me know as I had instructed the framer, Joe Vaccaro, not to proceed until I heard.    Not  word so far.

What has been really nice, is all the friends and followers that expressed concern over this for both me and other  artists.  That is heartwarming. The only thing I know to do is be very public about it so as many
people as possible get the message.

Funnily enough, I received an email from a friend who was caught in a hotel in London with no money and only his passport, please send money fast.   Right on!!!  I'd send him that cashier's check if only I still had it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I’m being

The .com is a joke; the being scammed is for real.
Here’s the story… it is happening now!
I received an email

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy Barnes
Sent: Jan 13, 2011 11:09 AM
Subject: Artworks Inquiry..

Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creatives works on your web site and i will like you to get back with more details if they are still available for purchase. Overseeing the Harbor and Woolworth Building and friends

I will appreciate an urgent reply.

Best Regards, Kathy.

Every artist finds this very flattering and highly exciting; I am no exception. I responded

Thank you for your interest in my paintings. The two, you asked about, are popular. “Overlooking the Harbor” is/was going into an exhibit scheduled to be hung today. If you want it before March 31, it can be removed from the show. The “Woolworth and Friends” is currently hanging in a show due to be taken down at the end of January. I can ask to remove it earlier if it is urgent.

I will do my best to get them to you if you want them asap. Thanks again for your interest.

To which I received the following

Hi , Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative works. I will like to proceed with the purchase of both pieces . Can you pls confirm the actual size and price of the two pieces so i can know how best to proceed. I will also like to know what inspire you to make the pieces.

I will look forward to hearing from you soon, Best Regards, Kathy.

I responded with prices and asked about framing. Her following email disclosed that she was in London for her twin sister’s wedding and pregnant. Also telling me her husband had been transferred to South Africa and would send me a check, it was important to her that they be framed and ready for hanging in their new home and that the transfer company “moving their home decors” would be in touch about picking up the paintings.

I sent a reply with a MS Word file of my artist statement and wrote to the Director of the Exhibits at the Art Students’ League asking if the painting could be removed early. Leah, the Director, said she was suspicious and to be careful, she had heard about art scammers from South Africa. Not daunted, but somewhat doubtful, I continued my email dialog with Kathy.

The very next email from Kathy apologized for the lapse of time, which was about 5 days explaining she had been in the hospital with a near miscarriage. She said she was ok and wanted to proceed. My response was sympathetic and explained that the second painting would be available for me on the 26th and both could be taken to the framer in Queens the next day. If you remember, that was the night of the 19” snowfall. I began wondering if I wanted to spend the money to frame them without seeing any money up front.

Simultaneously, the suggestion was given to me to Google Kathy’s email address. The revelation was amazing. There were multiple blogs and Facebook entries about this very scammer. Googling the address she gave me for South Africa revealed a treasure trove of more complaints and scathing condemnations of people treating artists of all people this way.

What the scammers do.. is… send a check for 4 to 5 times the amount in question. When the artist reports the error, they say, “cash the check and give the difference to the transfer company.” Meanwhile, the check bounces and the transfer company in cahoots with the scammers has the paintings and the money.

This made my day. I was not disappointed about not selling the paintings. It was more exciting to be in the midst of a scam and have this story to write. Knowing I wanted to string things along to some sort of grand conclusion instead of letting it just slip away with me feeling somewhat duped, I emailed her that I couldn’t go to the framer as planned because of the weather, I’d go on Friday. I wanted to see the check. Feeling a little more vengeful, I started to call the FBI then realized it is too small a deal to be of interest to them. Plus the internet is full of stories about the same folks; this isn’t really something new. Friday I will email her that the framer has gone to his country home to shovel snow.

Maybe by then the check will come.