The ‘millionaire’s’ response to my blog post

This morning I received an email from Bigger Ltd telling me that my libellous and damaging blog post about the ‘millionaire’ artist could lead to a six year prison sentence and £3000 fine.

So I looked up Bigger Ltd and it seems the director is Stuart Semple’s girlfriend. They have a rather sparse website (check it here), a PO Box address and no phone number. And their ‘legal team’ are lacking a copywriter, see paragraph 3: it’s – instead of its – and page 2, paragraph 1: form – instead of from.

They wrote to me in the hope that I’d be scared and take down my original post – but instead, I’m going to publish the letter here, as it gives an even clearer picture of the people we’re dealing with:

page 1

page 2 smaller

Of course, there are two sides to every story, so please feel free to have a read of his response to my blog post. Below is the original post he published but he changed it over night – after I posted a link – to this:

I LOVE YOU
I
AM SORRY
PLEASE
FORGIVE ME
THANK YOU

I really really tried to give you the money (twice via the court) but it wasn’t what you wanted from me so you turned it down.

And then he changed it a third time to this: click here.



The artist’s original post:

I feel like I have to say something because there’s a lot of talk and it’s pretty one sided. Sorry for any typos or bad grammer I’m rushing it out… stream of conciusness style.

I need to get this off my chest because I’ve not had the chance to speak about this stuff anywhere yet. It seems like everyone else has had the chance to do a lot of talking.

First off I want you to understand that the artworld is as effected by the global economy as anything else. When money is short even those at the top, temporarily stop buying luxuries. Sadly art has become such a thing. It’s not that the Lehman Bros fell and everyone carried on as normal, dealers I know lost their homes. Artists lost their studios. Damien Hirst’s price is about 75% of what it was at his peak just to give you some perspective.

I don’t need to tell anyone what I’ve done to help others, if you are clued up enough to look you can find it. In fact it would be nice if you did some googling and see the projects because you’ll see tens (if not hundreds of thousands of people who have been touched in positive ways).

What I won’t stand for is a bad writer who’s met me for 15 minutes explaining to the world what I’m really like as if she knows me.

What I want to address is a certain moment in my life, about 3 months of absolute pain and hell. A combination of things hit me, all at the same time. I’ve done everything I can to get over it and glue my life back together. These kinds of online attacks really don’t help.

There’s a lot I can’t say for various legal reasons. But what I can say is that not everything you’ve been reading about me today is right. There’s some false bits and there are some half truths that are there to serve a particular narrative.

Ask yourself this, if a baliff came to my show to recover £1300 worth of art, how on earth is the debt still due if my work starts at that for a small drawing?. Answer: no baliff ever seized anything. I’ve never been to Madrid, i’d like to. At the time I was most certianly living in london as you’ll read. Don’t forget in the eyes of the court and the law which is where disputes like this are discussed, this amount is not due.

I need to give you some background:

First off I did a massive show, sold really well and got a good response but the gallery read the contract differently to me and deiced that they wouldn’t pay me.Yes I worked for 9 months, missed christmas with my son and put my heart and soul into it to go home empty handed. It happens! And we dealt with it the proper way, not trolling online.

I’d also done some huge projects with some big brands but their pay cycles are really slow quite often 90 days + 10 days which didn’t help. All in all cashflow crisis!

At the same time I was victim to horrendous stalker attacks at home, people on the roof outside my bedroom with sticks and keeping me up all night playing recordings of adolf hitler. My 2 year old son was terrified as was my partner, so my attention was on that. I needed to move my family to safety. You have no idea how horredous it was, it was every night for weeks on end, the police over. I hadn’t slept for weeks we had cctv in out bedroom. it was terrifying and I couldn’t work, I was totally shattered.

Whilst that was going on the brand that owned the gallery I was running at the time decided that they no longer wished to carry on with that side of their business. read this…. http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG9626953/Jack-Wills-axe-sister-store-Aubin-and-Wills.html

Then concurrently I put on a massive show to raise funds and awareness for a cause close to my heart. it worked! That fund exists and it is helping people today and I’m proud of that. AND the show was good. That lives on it’s probably the only positive thing to come out of that mess. Well that and the fact I’ve managed to get out of London and really connect with my work in a new way.

With all that on my plate I had a spate of thefts of phones and iPads from the gallery along with cash stolen from lockers.

Now Specifics:

I had staff sending weird and wonderful letters to my galleries and dealers who were pulling sales and shows from under me, without any chance to explain myself. How do you think I’d have got the funds to pay you when everywhere I went you were sabotaging me. There was a lot of pleasure being taken in kicking someone when they were down.

Previous employee – employed as sales director, sold ZERO and failed to turn up most of the time and left the other gallery assistant to basically do everything single handed. Which she did and she did hard. Plus she understood my situation and actually had a bit of compassion for what I was going through.

Annie – Let’s get one thing straight you did get your first month’s pay. We weren’t ignoring you, nor did we give you a fake address. We had to move house so we must have missed your letters. We responded to the court as ordered as soon as we knew…. you were offered the money in full… TWICE… you turned those applications down, you’d have had it ages ago.You didn’t want the money you wanted a drama. You decided it would be better to try and disrupt shows and chase us round with private detectives. What planet do you live on? No work was seised from any gallery and you know it. there was no legal basis to take it. The case has run it’s course and you were unsuccessful in recovery through the court. The courts are the proper place to deal with those types of disputes, posting stuff online to embarrass someone isn’t. You should have just spoken to me, rather than getting ridiculous. I’m sorry you didn’t get the result you wanted that way but this isn’t the right way either.

Ellie – I really don’t know what to say accept I spent £8,000 of my own money in a last minute (after I’d been up all night installing your stuff) attempt to ensure your work looked as good as possible for the press launch of the show. Maybe you should say what the amount was for… it was £40 wasn’t it? it was for a taxi, I never promised you that. I’m sure you’ve dined out on the stuart owes me £40 quid story ten times over. It was a charity project. People volunteered and worked so hard, they didn’t get a taxi home! I took the bus! And ‘transportation’… it was a DVD…A DVD!!! not a major logistical international art shipment. Oh Ellie! The technician wasn’t paid because they didn’t do the job… that job was make a screen to project your work on, as they messed it up I had no choice but to fork out the £8k

Chris – you didn’t even contact us… all you did was take to internet trolling and we had to get the police involved. You know I was super understanding when you had that issue before yet you don’t care about mine? besides which youa re too good at motion graphics to be stuck working behind a desk in a gallery anyway.

Emma E – I feel bad about what happened with you. I never had a chance to talk to you and straighten things out. You put your heart and soul into it and I appreciated it. There were circumstances beyond my control that prevented me from making it good to you. We worked together for a long while and you always got paid you know that. It wasn’t thousands I owed you like Ellie says it was £550 quid from your last months work. I didn’t hear from you. I hope wherever you are you are making stuff and that you are happy. You know the costs on that project spiralled out of control it went nearly a hundred grand over budget. There just wasn’t enough to go around it was so stressful for all of us.

Seriously you lot, blockbuster, boarders, woolworths they all went under. I hit a bad patch too, it was never supposed to effect you, but what could I have done. Sometimes bad things and hard times fall on good people. Have you never been in a position where you can’t pay something that you are obliged to? Even if you really really want to? Look at the rest of it the other 14 years I’ve been doing this… sadly this was a rough couple of months you got caught up in but you’ve really gone about resolving it in the wrong way. You’ve actually caused so much more harm than what you were owed in the first place. Accept the E’s you two are cool.

But the rest of you…. it’s been to court you’ve had your day and when that didn’t work in your favour you decided that it’s punishment by public opinion. it doesn’t work like that.

You lot were happy to take my money when I was flush and be there when there was a party but where were you when things went wrong, did any of you ask me how I was?

I’ve bought recording kit for my assistants because i thought they should be making music rather than helping me, paid for artists to print their art when they’ve had no cash, bought them bikes when they got stolen, wired them money when they had medical crisis’ whilst abroad. I even continued to pay some of them when they couldn’t work because they were unwell and I didn’t see them for months on end. Everyone who knows me knows that when i can I share!

I’m getting on with my thing. Making art, things are going well again. My last show was good and the future is huge!

I’m not going to get drawn into this any deeper, but I urge you if you are reading this, make up your own mind.

To those f you that support what I do and who have been there for me, you are the reason I keep going and I love you. I’ve got some killer new stuff lined up that I can’t want to show you. I’ve not stopped for you no matter what.

Stuart



9 replies on “ The ‘millionaire’s’ response to my blog post ”
  1. Intellectual property rights??? What are they talking about???
    And they’re trying to claim some sort of rights from your original contract? They don’t realise that the whole contract became void once he breached it by not paying you? Laughable. Do you have any lawyer-ish friends who can write something back? No need to post my comment up if you’d rather they didn’t see it. Good luck.

  2. Darling, We’ve all been there. But from what you’ve posted all I can see is offers to give you money. And you turned it down? And then wrote about it? I don’t get it :/ Saying that from his mug shot he looks a bit funny. You’ll know next time. Dave x

  3. Dave, he had all the bank details of the people who worked for him, so if he really did offer the money why didn’t he just pay it into their accounts as per the employment contract? It makes no sense.

    Alarm bells should ring when so many people say they weren’t paid; the recession is not an excuse to take on employees you can’t afford – businesses should have contingency for that. Personal issues have nothing to do with it either, if you have no cash flow and your life is making business impossible, don’t start taking on staff and making promises you know you can’t keep.

  4. He makes a big deal in his response about how generous he is when he has money, buying people bikes and paying for all sorts of things he couldn’t reasonably be expected to pay for, as if this makes it OK to leave people in the lurch on other occasions. All this shows is a lack of respect for money, an inability to budget long term, and an irresponsible approach to financial management. Not paying people what you’ve promised them is not OK!

    He says he tried to offer you money via the court, presumably some piddling monthly re-payment arrangement? How much did he offer?

  5. He did not turn up to my court date, so it was automatically granted to me, however it was not paid. I have never had any promise of being paid or any attempt been made to reach me for payment. They have my detailS they are welcome to put it in whenever they want as I definitely would not refuse!

    Well done Annie for posting all of this.

  6. Welcome to the cease and desist club, Annie. I have absolutely no horse in this race personally but I’ve written about similar cases before and they always go the same way. Same tactics, same excuses, same vague documentation of who you’re really dealing with and where they are, the exact same tone, even: on their high horse, threatening, paranoid about their reputation, with a hint of martyrdom and grandiosity. Claims that any one individual is maliciously libelling him seem unlikely to me because it’s hard to imagine that a bunch of unrelated strangers all just decided to gang up on the guy for no good reason. If a person’s reputation is really so fantastic and their career is truly so high flying, why would they so fear a bit of criticism that they go straight to the (quasi) legal threats?

    Sounds like he was going through a total meltdown which is unfortunate but as Helen rightly commented above, if you’re running a business then there should be some contigency plan so the place doesn’t fall to pieces when things go wrong. Another part of running a business is never knowingly letting grievances reach the stage where anybody feels they’ve no choice but to air them out in public.

    Seriously, people, do yourself a favour and run, don’t walk, away from any galleries, gallerists, artists or other art world people who show the slightest hint of any drama. It will never end well for you.

    PS: If you’re in the UK and you’re a blogger, a journalist, a commentator of any kind, from the 31st December 2013 the Defamation Act 2013 came into force and henceforth prevents anybody from screeching defamation or libel every time they’re fairly criticised unless they can conclusively prove in advance that “serious harm” is being done by discussion of the matter at hand.

    http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/dec/31/trivial-libel-claims-targeted-new-law

  7. Hi Annie,
    I feel for you because I am an artist too and I also know about the law as I had some legal dealing that were not unlike this. So I wanted to write on this blog and give some pro bono legal advice.

    1. The letter above is utter nonsense. No serious law firm writes in red ink on an official letter. You do not have to be scared of them whatsoever, as it is not genuine. It is not genuine because they have made it up, as if it were real they would have quoted the legal firm or solicitor that they got the advice from. No solicitor has advised them however, as if they had they would have been told you were in the right legally, so put Stuart Semple’s name back up there, it’s okay.
    There is no email or telephone number on it either which also makes it fake, as a real legal letter would have both for correspondence, in addition to the name and address of their solicitor.

    2. Stuart is not a millionaire, he is clearly hard up like any other artist so he will not pay good money to attempt a legal injunction that would obviously fail as you are in the right. Stating facts online is no crime. Ignore this threat, as you are entitled by law to use such means to recover your own money.

    3. Please tell us what show the works were seized from by the Bailiffs, it’s okay to be as specific as possible. Tell us all the date this happened and where the works are now, and what Bailiffs did this. Tell us also exactly where this seizure took place. What has happened to these works, have they been sold to pay off your debt?

    4. If there was a court judgement, can you scan a copy and post it on here so we can all see it? These documents are openly available under Freedom of Information and you’re not breaking any law by posting it online. Stuart says he tried to pay it back, but if he hasn’t say that he is lying and make it clear that he has never paid you any money whatsoever. Telling the truth is no crime in the UK.

    5. To protect yourself legally and recover assets, always give clear facts such as the location, time, date and then you remain in the right. Never be vague as when a judge assess the case to recover your £1300 debt they only go on openly proven facts that everyone in the world can see. The only exception to this is when the case is more serious, such as as in recent terror trials, or where it involves someone under 18.

    I hope this helps

    Yours, An artist about town

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