25 Apr

I want your souuuuuuuuuul… and a £25 submission fee, and a massive commission fee, and some other fees that are hidden in the small print, and…

I’ve been helping several correspondents do detective work on some artist farming businesses who’ve tried to pick them up recently. My definition of artist farming is taking money from artists for vaguely defined services or for promises of success or sales that are deceptive and otherwise not as advertised. These schemes and businesses promise a lot but usually achieve little or nothing positive for the artist; they may indeed damage an artist’s credibility and their prospects of being taken seriously. They certainly don’t have the interests of artists or art buyers at heart in any way. All they care about is milking as many naive marks as possible. In Britain the same little pack of bandits seems to have about 90% of the artist farming business sewn up, they’re all friends with each other and they all co-validate each other’s lies and puffed-up CVs, linking to each other with bogus endorsements, spurious logos, sketchy web sites and narratives of success that don’t hold water.

Since it’s surprisingly quick and easy to get the measure of a company online, I thought I would share some methods to either put your mind at rest that the company is legit and the person you’re dealing with is who and what they say they are… or not, as the case may be. Where so-called “art opportunities” are concerned, the latter usually turns out to be the case.

I’m going to emphasise just once but very clearly that the means of investigating people I’m about to suggest should never be used to abuse, bully, harass, terrorise or stalk anybody, no matter how much of a scumbag you might think they are. If they’re doing wrong or they make you worry for the wellbeing of anyone who deals with them, then they deserve to be called out, reported or arrested but their wrongdoing does not justify you behaving wrongly or illegally as well. Or being a creepy stalker, which is also illegal by the way.

First of all, Google. Or Bing if you’re totally twisted and mental. USE THEM. Sometimes you’ll smell a rat on the first or second page of results. If somebody’s claiming to be a successful curator, then why can’t you find any mention or trace of the exhibitions they supposedly worked on? If they’re a super entrepreneur then they’d probably want to tell you all about their successes, not hide them away or make coy, bland allusions to them. If they “have twenty years of experience in the arts”, well, at least ten of those should have left some trace online.

Their testimonials– popular with sketchy artist farming businesses, but rarely in the repertoire of legitimate arts organisations or of galleries that genuinely make sales, because they don’t need them– might seem convincing, but what about checking the credentials and CV of the person who gave it? Often you’ll find that the web of praise leads around in rather small circles, from one sketchy, scammy business to another and then right back around again to where it started.

Always read the small print, because it’s usually there in vast quantities. Quite often there are clauses in it that are quasi-legalese rather than actually enforceable in law. It’s also common to find disclaimers that seem deliberately intended to trap the unwary and to rob the artist of any redress or escape when things go wrong, as they almost inevitably do.

NB: Further material removed at the request of Maria Raposo. See her complaint, published in full and unedited, below. Following that is a copy of my response.

Dear Sir,

Re: Your “Career Suicide” article entitled “Come to Dada”

We write regarding the above-named article which was first published on 25 April 2013 (“the April Article”), updated with further comments on 18 and 19 July and in September 2013 and which remains on your “Career Suicide” blog at the following address:

In the April Article and in the subsequent updates, you have made and / or caused to be published a number of untrue and defamatory statements of fact about Kids of Dada Limited (“Kids of Dada”) and its Managing Director, Maria Raposo. The statements came to our attention only very recently when we were notified of their existence by another artist. In particular:

·       Kids of Dada is given as an example of an “artist farming business”, “taking money from artists for vaguely defined services or for promises of success of sales that are deceptive”, which does not “have the interests of artists or art buyers at heart in any way”. Further, the article indicates that Kids of Dada is part of “the same little pack of bandits” which “co-validate each other’s lies….linking to each other with bogus endorsements, spurious logos, sketchy websites and narratives of success that don’t hold water”;

·       The latter statements were re-published in response to a comment posted on 18 July 2013, with the introduction “It’s interesting that you mention this lady’s [Maria Raposo’s] association with the Other Art Fair” and concludes with “QED”;

·       Subsequent statements are made which indicate that Kids of Dada is not a legitimate business and is an example of a “sketchy scammy business”, relying on “disclaimers that seem deliberately intended to trap the wary and rob the artist of any redress or escape when things go wrong, as they almost inevitably do”;

·       With respect to Ms Raposo personally, it is stated that because she has a “disposable Yahoo email in her Whois record”, this is “not often the mark of an arts professional doing their business”;

·       In the updated comments published in September 2013, this refers Kids of Dada and Maria Raposo “still fishing for artists” and to the posts on 18 and 19 July 2013 as “a sadly unsurprising anecdote of her behaving as people like her often do”. It goes on to state “I guess she [Maria Raposo] probably failed to mention that shady projects or vanity galleries are regarded as trash by people who really work properly in the art world and / or sell artists’…work without subterfuge. Their reputations could not be worse”. It is also stated that engaging with business such as Kids of Dada would result in “lining the pockets of some greedy swine”.

The above statements made about Kids of Dada and Ms Raposo are not only false, they are also very damaging, to our business and to Ms Raposo personally. As such, we have been advised that these statements could give rise to a claim for defamation against you.

It would appear that in the first instance, you have based your statements on the fundamental misunderstanding that artists are charged a fee (the figures of both £25 and £850 are referred to) in order to register as a member of Kids of Dada, are tied into onerous terms and conditions which they cannot get out of and once signed up, will not receive any benefit from membership.
Your statements are simply incorrect; Kids of Dada does not charge any up-front fees nor membership fees nor does it require any artist to enter into an exclusive or long term contract with Kids of Dada. It is for the artist concerned to decide on the sale price of each work and once sold, they will receive a direct payment of 80% of the sale price within 30 days. Kids of Dada will receive 20% of the sale price as a commission fee, one of the lowest rates of commission in the industry, for taking care of everything on behalf of the artist, including curation, PR, fulfilment, shipping and payment processing.

You have also placed a wholly misplaced emphasis the use of a pre-registered shelf company (Global Technology Marketing Limited which has since changed its name to Kids of Dada Limited) and the use of a service address as our registered office address. However, it is common practice for a business, when starting up, to purchase an effectively ready-made company in this way. It is also a legal requirement (under the Companies Act) to have a registered address and a service address can be used for this purpose. There is certainly nothing remotely untoward or sinister in the way we have established our business.
Similarly, we would strongly advise you to reconsider the spurious and incorrect conclusions you reach on the basis of a Who is profile, which is in the process of being updated in any event.

We are however grateful to you for drawing to our attention that the contact address on the Kids of Dada website was out of date; the registered office and contact address for Kids of Dada is 43 Berkeley Square, London W1J 5FJ.
Far from what your article inaccurately represents, Kids of Dada takes great care in selecting the artists which it promotes through a properly curated online gallery and to respected galleries. For the last year, our curatorial team has carefully screened the artists applying to us (we do not accept every artist who applies to us) and subsequently, diligently reviewed their submissions, to ensure that they are properly curated. In short, it is our mission to help emerging artists to connect with curators beyond their local reach. Please also note that neither Kids of Dada or Maria Raposo are connected or associated with the Other Art Fair as has been incorrectly suggested.

In light of what we have set out above, you are requested to remove your comments about / references to Kids of Dada (including the link to our website) and Ms Raposo with immediate effect. If you decide to publish our response, you should do so in its entirety, to avoid any further misrepresentation about Kids of Dada / Ms Raposo and damage to their reputations.
Should you fail to take appropriate action, Kids of Dada and / or Ms Raposo reserve the right to take such action against you as we consider necessary to protect our interests. We also reserve the right to refer to this correspondence in relation to costs, should formal legal action have to be instigated (which we trust will not be the case).

Yours faithfully

For and on behalf of Kids of Dada

Maria Raposo
Managing Director
T: +44 (0) 779 6405 370      London,UK

My reply:

Dear Madam,

First of all, I apologise for the slight delay in replying. I take your complaint very seriously so I wanted to make sure you got a comprehensive, considered response and this is the first opportunity I’ve had. This morning I have removed the material you claim is defamatory to you, and published in its place your complaint– in full and unedited, as per your request. I have also published a copy of my response to your complaint (i.e. this email) because I believe there are a considerable number of errors and misreadings in your complaint, which should also be publicly corrected:

1) I very clearly state (twice) that there are potentially innocent explanations for the things I identified as problematic (e.g. contact details being persistently wrong or absent) when one is dealing with a company; by which I meant any company. Contrary to defaming you, on two occasions I am actually emphasising the point that your company (like any company) may just have made a mistake or failed to update the appropriate records, as you have directly admitted and confirmed that you did with the addressing issue and the whois registry issue respectively.

2) The commenter interacted with you “during a lecture organised by The Other Art Fair”. It is therefore not unreasonable to surmise on the basis of her comment that you have or had an association with them, if only by virtue of being there on that occasion. I fully accept the argument that it may have been a one-off or temporary relationship and not a long term collaboration, if that was the case.

3) The post was inspired in the first place by several artists complaining (privately, via email) to me that they had received unsolicited and unwanted communications from your company on more than one occasion, and even more specifically by the fact that their attempts to establish your and/or your company’s credentials and provenance had come to nothing, which struck them as very suspicious. Neither I nor they could find any statement of your company’s policies and services (or even contact details) as clear and unambiguous as the letter you have sent to me. Hence the subjective speculation, which is all the article is or could be in light of the very basic information that you have hitherto made available for general consumption, to the best of my knowledge.

4) The whole first paragraph does not refer, nor was/is it intended to refer, to your company in any way. It’s a general expression of my opinion about a certain sector of the art selling business. The first reference to your company is in paragraph 7, where it appears as an example of how to investigate a company. Nothing before that point refers in any way to your company. The comment you refer to also does not specifically mention your company beyond the first paragraph and is again a general statement of my honestly held opinion that some art companies rip artists off. I didn’t say that you did, nor did I have any intention of doing so.

5) It is demonstrably true that certain art selling businesses (and the artists who use their services) have little or no credibility with other people who work in the arts, especially among those dealing with critically engaged practice and/or the high end art market. This has been publicly stated on numerous occasions and I have heard it first hand from leading arts professionals and gallerists. But again there is no reference to your company other than my guess that this widely held view among art professionals was not mentioned during your talk. Nor is this paragraph (5) itself a direct reference or inference about you, just a general statement of fact.

6) The figure of £25 is in a humorous caption, and no reasonable person would think it refers to you, especially since it comes at the top of the page before anyone has read the article where you are not mentioned until paragraph 7. In fact regular readers of the blog would know that “£25 entry fee” is part of a running joke and debate about artists being charged to apply for anything and everything. If you don’t ever charge artists £25, you have no reason to believe I was referring to you when I was not. Likewise the £850 evidently does not refer to you unless you are “a vanity art fair”, which I don’t think you are and I have never stated that you are. I make no mention of you/your company specifically with regard to fees of any kind. There is no misconception about your charges or lack of charges because I was not referring to you either directly or by implication. Your company being mentioned in the article does not mean that the whole article is about you and every comment in it is about you, and nor would any reasonable person think this was the case.

Despite most of the opinions you believe to be defamatory not being direct or veiled references to you at all, I trust that this prompt action satisfies your desire to have your complaints heard and avoid misrepresentation of you and/or your company.

Alistair Gentry



10 Responses to “COME TO DADA”

  1. Alistair 25/04/2013 at 11:16 AM #

    PS: You can also find out about a company director’s history and any other businesses he or she may have been involved in by using services such as

    For another example, let’s take my dear friend Samir Ceric of Debut Contemporary ( ) who is about forty and yet appears to have at least TWENTY now defunct businesses behind him ( ). Therefore if they were spread out evenly throughout every year of his adult life this would amount to about one defunct business for every single year since 1992.

  2. Alistair 25/04/2013 at 11:59 AM #

    Some more general good advice on artists doing their homework before they get entangled with schemes that may not be good for them:

  3. Alistair 26/04/2013 at 11:36 AM #

    Via @markscottwood on Twitter, this long but very worthwhile and informative report on up to £16bn of lost tax revenue in the UK due to the thousands of vaguely defined and unmonitored ghost companies that are allowed (and even passively encouraged by lax enforcement of the law) to disappear without filing accounts every year. Many so-called “entrepreneurs”, “art fairs” or “galleries” who run businesses that target artists take full advantage of this system’s gigantic holes.

    Click to access 500000Final.pdf

  4. Alistair 03/05/2013 at 12:50 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

  5. lfossi 18/07/2013 at 10:47 PM #

    Thank You Career Suicide., Thanks Alistair.
    I was just trying to find a few information on Maria Raposo on LinkedIn,,,and finding none…I Google Maria Raposo name and found your article. I met her (I suppose it was her) during a lecture organised by The Other Artfair at the King College last Tuesday.
    She was sitted between the art critic Sarah Kent and Kim Savage from the Fold Gallery.

    Maria seemed to know what she was taking about, bombarding us (all of us were artists in search of guidance in what Maria described as a challenging and international art world). So, we better listen, she might not say it twice… First were the studies and rates, showing on powerpoint that blue painting (certainly not the brown’s one) on medium size canvasses were selling really well on internet. She then presented her new Dada “no sorry I won’t accept everyone like Saatchi” through which the collectors will be guided according to their needs….I freaked out then a little more when she explained that people could ‘try’ a painting for a month or so and return it if not satisfied…

    To tell you the truth I realised with your article that all theses people who gravitate around us are very good at making us feeling insecure and inadequate. Maria more or less told me that if I was not good at making short and sharp sentences (I am obviously not fluent in English) then I better not use Twitter, that it could damaged my image (that she described as a sort of brand), that we (artists) should be very careful on how we use the social medias. I worried a bit, thinking of all the irrelevant things I sometimes said on Twiiter.

    Yet I got more than 500 connections on LinkedIn, 749 Friends on Facebook and 398 Likes on my page! Et Pof as we say in French.

    And despite what the gallerists were saying during this lecture I won’t be sad nor even upset for long.
    Last April I sold 10 paintings (for real and real money) in a show that I curated all by myself in London: My press release was too long, my english not perfect, I had no friends on Twitters (sic) …yet the work was good and honest and I was there all day with my art and for the observers. Despite all my handicaps according to what I heard on Tuesday: I am a woman, over 45 and new in this business, looks bad like the mum who gets bored, I am selftaught, not sure but lets say that I have not graduate in a London Art School, despite all that and also the rejections by most gallery, website and so on…

    Despite one will this nonsense, I feel blessed to be an artist, and when I am understood it is paradise! Lorraine Fossi
    (Think my lfossi WordPress account is not linked with my website, again something I should look at!)

    • Alistair 18/07/2013 at 11:43 PM #


      • lfossi 19/07/2013 at 12:08 AM #

        Now I worry a little that they won’t take my submission for the Other Artfair, because you see I want to do it. From next September I will be doing a MA painting at City & Guilds and fear not to get enough time to organise my own shows. I did Parallax Art Fair in 2012 which was really crap, with the worst lectures I ever heard, yet I manage to have a very professional stand, sold two small painting and get noticed by Rosenfeld Porcini, the only gallery I met with which I would really like to work in the future. Don’t tell me bad stuff about them …s’il vous plait parce que je les estiment.
        Merci et bonne nuit. Lorraine

  6. Alistair 22/04/2014 at 1:30 AM #

    I don’t want to get into spoilers for legal reasons (although not the legal reasons you might think) and because funny hoist by their own petard larks are best when the person doesn’t exactly know where the petard in question is going to land or even that there’s a petard at all, but UH OH! An informant tells me that Maria and her Deeds of Caca are shortly to get hit like a ton of bricks, and not the arty Carl Andre Equivalent kind of bricks either.

    Unrelated to this but relevant to the post: Informant also provides proof that the authorities in Ontario dissolved one of her previous companies for non compliance with tax return and/or tax payment legislation. FACT, not opinion or defamation. And yes, the art detective does now have a posse. People are using the techniques laid out here and making more informed decisions about who they choose to work with; that’s all I want people to do. I’m not here to dictate how artists run their careers, or to defame anybody. I just want everyone to be in a position to make informed, intelligent decisions instead of automatically taking everything they’re told at face value.

    I can find no record of this company or “festival” doing anything or conducting any business except for merely existing for a few years as a registered company in Canada. Duck Duck Go provides NO results, Google just brings up duplicate records from Canada’s Companies House, and Bing brings up a load of irrelevant stuff. No change there, then.

    Company Number
    Dissolved For Non Compliance
    Incorporation Date
    28 October 2003 (over 10 years ago)
    Registered Address
    54 LYND AVENUE, TORONTO ON, M6R 1T9, Canada
    Directors/ Officers
    inactive DAVID BESTER, director
    inactive MARIA RAPOSO, director”

  7. Alistair 13/02/2015 at 1:45 PM #

    Message for Kieran!
    I received your confidential contact and tried to reply, but the email address you gave bounces back as undeliverable.
    But in short… your suspicions are correct and I have the details you mentioned on file from the kinds of informants you wrote of.

  8. Alistair 10/02/2017 at 1:43 PM #

    Warnings and first hand (bad) experiences STILL coming in on this one. Thanks R, J, D, B and others.

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