bad experience with the Lizardi/ Harp Gallery
By Wim 

 

Dear Artspace2000

Here is the story of my bad experience with the Lizardi/Harp Gallery in Pasadena California.

A year ago I signed up with the Lizardi/Harp Gallery. I was introduced to this gallery by a curator/museum director who has become a friend over the years ( Iíd rather not mention his name, heís a good man and I donít want to compromise him)

I was enthusiastic and felt that this might be a brake thru in my career, because of the introduction by my friend I believed this would be a safe and reliable gallery to hook up with.

The gallery was enthusiastic about the documentation I had sent about my work and we started up an email correspondence , brainstorming on how we could get started. The gallery-director, Mr. Grady Harp was utterly friendly, charming and full of compliments about my work.

After a few months, we decided that the gallery would start representing me with 4 paintings the director had chosen.

I arranged ( and paid!) for the shipment of the paintings from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. The gallery didnít offer any help with this shipment nor with the necessary paperwork for insurance customs etc. The gallery didnít even want to pick the paintings up from Los Angeles Airport!

As soon as I gave the gallery-director notice that the paintings were on there way,.........the trouble started!

Within 24 hours I was sent a contract, in which to my astonishment was a clause 4:

"Gallery will work toward Museum Exhibitions, both group and solo, making all arrangements and negotiations for artist, and toward articles in Magazines and Books. For this un-reimbursed service Gallery Director will be given opportunity to select a mutually agreeable work by the artist as payment for this service".

I immediately called up my lawyer, because I felt that this was a very weird condition. My lawyer made it crystal clear that:

" For 50% gallery-commission NOTHING is un-reimbursed!".

I also asked my friend the curator, he called it "un-ethical" far a gallery to try to get more than 50%, especially since the gallery already had me paying for shipping expenses!

I had my lawyer call up the gallery-director and arrange for a decent contract.

Clause 4 was removed, but then the gallery wanted to sell my work for prices that were Ī40% under my own studio prices! Apart from what that would have meant for my income, I have numerous collectors in the U.S. who have bought work out of my studio for those prices. It would have been absolutely absurd, of course, that a collector would see similar work of my hand in a gallery in California for almost Ĺ the price!

By this time I was already losing all my faith in this gallery as you might understand. I demanded decent prices, which I got finally but only under the condition of a 6 months consignment agreement.

Early September, Mr. Grady Harp emailed me that he had sold the first painting and that he would send me my check as soon as the clients check had cleared.

After six weeks, still no check, so I emailed the gallery asking why this took so long. Mr. Harp claimed that it was an "installment-situation".

This seemed strange to me, because of his first email about this sale and also because I never had made have any agreements with the gallery on payments in installments.

My lawyer than called Mr.Harp for an explanation.

What followed next, is 4 months ( !!!!! ) of excuses, promises and more excuses but NO money. By the end of December my lawyer was so discusted with this that he started calling Mr.Grady every day, with as result that Mr.Grady didnít pick up the phone anymore for 3 weeks ( !!!!! )

My lawyer then finally wrote him an email explaining to Mr.Harp, that if that check would not be on my doormat within a week, he would start legal action against the Lizardi/Harp gallery. My lawyer also demanded to see the sales-contract as he felt that Mr. Harp was telling lies.

The check arrived within 24 hours by federal Express! Until this day, however, I have never seen the sales-contract.

I then, of course, informed Mr.Harp that I wasnít the least interested anymore in being presented by him and that I would make arrangements for my paintings to be removed from his gallery.

Mr.Harp has tried every trick in the book to keep me from taking my painting from his gallery.

But my lawyer has bombarded him with so much documents and paperwork, that he finally gave in. Thank God my best friend is a screwed lawyer!!!

I want to warn people for this gallery! The director Mr Grady Harp is a man with 2 faces; he is utterly charming when he wants something from you, but once he Ďs got you caught in his web he turns out to be a ruthless businessman without any moral. The Lizardi/Harp gallery has only itís own profit and interest in mind and they have no scruples of squeezing out an artist.

The gallery-director Mr.Harp is also a liar!

Wim Heldens  w@wimmelding.demon.nl