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Artists are losing thousands of dollars to an increasing number of art dealers who are conning them of their prized products as well as hard-earned cash. Visual artists who spoke to The Herald Entertainment indicated that these bogus art dealers were fleecing them of thousands of dollars in botched deals and fake promises.

These supposed middlemen either promise to sell artists’ pieces for an agreed amount, which they later on alter after selling the products or simple vanish with artists’ pieces altogether.

Sculptor Josh Mboya said many artists were leaving in squalid conditions after getting raw deals from bogus art dealers.

“These art dealers are a real menace.

“We toil so that we can make ends meet but they just come and take everything we have worked for.

“I am even failing to pay rent but the pieces that I have lost to these dealers are worth thousands of dollars. In reality I should be owning a house,” he said.

Another artist who fell victim to these dealers’ shenanigans is portrait painter Farai Chirumiko.

Chirumiko says his desperation at the time to get quick money made him behave irrationally by just trusting his paintings with someone he did not know much.

“I paid the price of desperation to these con artists when I let them sell my pieces for me. I only knew the guy because he had been operating in the area for some time and so I just trusted him and when he approached me for the pieces, I eagerly agreed, hoping to realise some cash from them. After he took my pieces that was the last I heard of him.

“The experience really devastated me but I have learnt a lot from it and now I only offer my pieces to a dealer after I have signed an agreement,” he said.

Calvin Chimutuwah, who is also a visual artist said he was fortunate enough not to fall victim to these “dealers” but a close friend of his was not so lucky.

“He lost quite a number of his prized pieces to these con artists and to make matters worse they continue prying on unsuspecting artists who in the end fall completely out of business because raw materials have to be bought from our sales.

“I learnt a lot from my friend’s unfortunate experience and now I do not offer my pieces without a written agreement as well as part of the payment which I usually peg at 30 percent of the total price so that I recover all my costs,” he said.

Painter Tatenda Mutseyekwa said artists are supposed to be cautious when dealing with middlemen as they are liable to being conned.

“These con artists target the vulnerable. Artists should learn to be patient and if their pieces take time to get sold they should just wait than risk losing them for nothing,” he said.

Source : The Herald