Hot Market Dealers

Street art was very hot in 2011, and in the hot market for street art someone was going to do something dodgy. It was a hot market because everyone knew that Banksy’s works were worth thousands and everyone expected that the prices would keep rising. People were hot to buy and didn’t have the time to do their research. In a hot art market need, speed and greed allow attribution to slip. It is also a hot time for dodgy dealers.

Amos Aikman reports in The Australian, “No-names raised eyebrows on the street” (April 14, 2015) that Sydney-based dealer Avdo Tabakovic was manufacturing street art for auction.

Melbourne-based art dealer Paul Auckett was working with Tabakovic and Lawsons Auctioneers’ then art specialist and sale organiser Giovanna Fragomeli on the 2011 auction. It was promoted as “the first major street art sale”, everyone has to be ‘first’ with street art. It is another sign of a very hot market where being ‘first’ is best.

Auckett told The Australian that “(Tabakovic) was mass producing pictures but masquerading them as by genuine street artists. That was pretty annoying for the artists I invited to consign work. The implication and the innuendo was that all the artists had worked their way up from the bottom.”

The names E-vader and Roy Elder, artists that Tabakovic was selling at the auction, are unknown to street artists. Amos Aikman reports that Roy Eder, an allegedly US based artist has a website that “was registered to Avdo Tabakovic in February 2011 for two years, at an address also used by Tabakovic in company records.” Not that this is criminal but it is dodgy and it is the Mr Brainwash model of producing street art.

Many people in Melbourne’s street art scene could smell this dodgy auction and had no interest. Factor at Invurt was approached for the auction and kept their email:

“My name is Giovanna Fragomeli and I look after the media and sponsorship department of Arthouse Auctions. I really would like the opportunity to discuss being an active sponsor of your blog as I feel it is a fantastic avenue for information in the contemporary and Street Art genres.”

“Arthouse Auctions is the only auction house in Australia that holds stand alone Contemporary and Street art Auctions and exhibitions and our next event is Melbourne next Sunday 3rd July.”

Factor explains what happens next. “They offered me a heap of “sponsorship cash” if I’d write a bunch of articles for them and plaster their name all over the site, basically trying to buy legitimacy. Needless to say I was suss straight out and avoided then like the plague. When I went to the auction and saw that e-vader shit I had to laugh.”

Fragomeli and Tabakovic run Art House Auctions. “Why pay gallery prices when you can buy at auction?” asks Art House Auctions on its website.

If a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably isn’t. Why would the price of art decline after its initial sale? Are dissatisfied customers trying to get rid of bad art and take loss on their purchase? If this is the case then the art is unlikely to be a good investment. The best price that you are likely ever going to pay for a work of art, barring lucky finds in garage sales and rubbish dumps, is to buy from the artist or the gallery that represents them.

Art dealers are the used car dealers of the art world, sure there are some honest reputable ones but there are also the Arthur Daleys. And Fragomeli and Tabakovic are still at it. In January 03, 2015 Amos Aikman reported on Fragomeli and Tabakovic faking aboriginal art from the APY Lands painters. In 2013 the ABC reported on other of Fragomeli and Tabakovic dodgy dealings.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “Hot Market Dealers

  • Street Art Against Money | Black Mark

    […] From time to time we all become concerned about money and when an artist is concerns about money it can take them in some strange directions. This gets even more warped when street artists get involved. I’m not surprised that street artists feeling worried about money as most are working for free and then suddenly finding themselves in a hot market. (see my post Hot Market Dealers). […]

  • Bevan k. Cooper a.k.a 'Deadbone'

    In 2011, my brother introduced me to Avdo Tabakovic. Avdo looked over some of my artwork, and he asked me to produce 2 – 3 artworks within a week, to be ready for his next upcoming art auction. I went home, worked really hard all week. I finished 2 large pieces, and i had a 3rd piece that i wasnt 100% happy with. I took my completed artwork into his art ‘warehouse’ in Alexandria, n.s.w on the day ‘he’ had arranged for me to come in with my finished artworks, but he wasnt there for our arranged meeting. So i left my 2 finished pieces with his assistant. I hadnt signed either of the artworks, as i was planning on getting avdo’s advice on ‘where’ he wanted them signed, but i wasnt expecting avdo not to be there for our meeting, so i totally forgot to sign them both before i went home, leaving the 2 artworks of mine there at avdo’s ‘arthouse warehouse’ . Anyway, long story short… He (Avdo) fraudulently signed my ‘art name’ of Deadbone himself, AND…. he got it wrong to boot! He put ‘Dead Bone’ , not as 1 word, but as 2, And he put the ‘dead’ on top of the ‘bone’ Totally not how i use the name. And… After he actually sold my artworks, at an auction held at Balmain Town Hall in late 2011, and broadcast over the net live (my mum watched the 1st of my 2 artworks sell for approx $240 from memory, but she missed the auction of my 2nd artwork) Anyway, he never paid me a cent, and wouldnt return my calls or sms’s. A few months later a person very close to me died suddenly and unexpectadly, so my 1st real art sale was suddenly not important at all. Now, 5yrs later, i see Avdo’s bad business practices have caught up with him in some small way atleast. His reputation is MUD!! As it deserves to be!!! Bevan K. Cooper a.k.a ‘Deadbone’ signing out….

    • Mark Holsworth

      Thanks Deadbone for writing that. Sorry to hear that you were ripped off your first and second art sale. I hope that some artists are warned and that the mud sticks to Avdo’s name.

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