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Artists Claim Los Angeles’s CB1 Gallery Owners Failed to Pay After Art Sold

Installation view of Merion Estes, “Dystopia” at CB1 in Los Angeles, May 2015.

COURTESY CB1.

Nine artists have signed an open letter claiming that the founders and owners of Los Angeles’s CB1 Gallery, Clyde Beswick and Jason Chang, “have consistently failed to honor the gallery’s contracts” with some artists they have worked with, written checks that have bounced, and sold art without notifying the artists who made it.

“We are working hard to resolve any and all issues with the artists whose work we have shown,” Beswick, who runs the gallery with Jason Chang, said in an email to ARTnews, when asked about the letter. “We truly love the art we have exhibited and respect the artists.”

The letter from the artists reads, in part, “Many of us have ended our relationship with the gallery as a result of Mr. Beswick’s and Mr. Chang’s dishonesty and failure to live up to even the most basic requests such as small payments paid out over long periods of time.

One of the signers, Brett Reichman, a San Francisco–based painter, said he has been pursuing payment for work purchased out of his solo show at CB1 more than two years ago. “My 2015 exhibition had robust sales and garnered many reviews,” he told ARTnews. “My work brought nothing but positive contributions and attention to the CB1 Gallery. It has been crushing to go from what was an unqualified success to this low point.”

Another artist who signed, Michael Mancari, took to Facebook to voice his frustration with the gallery. “Despite having filed a lawsuit against them, they blatantly have refused and ignored signed contracts and settlement agreements,” Mancari said in the post. “The lawsuit will continue. You can run, move or close your business but, I won’t stop until I have justice!”

In a filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Mancari said that he was never paid by CB1 for the sale of a painting priced at $10,000. The lawsuit claims that the gallery never disclosed how much his piece sold for and gave him checks that bounced. Mancari says that he does not know the location of the work and is seeking damages of more than $100,000.

Other artists detailed stories about working with CB1 on Mancari’s post, including Ain Cocke, who said, under the terms of his contract, he should have received $17,000 from the gallery by the end of March. He said said that he has not received any of that sum.

Beswick did not respond to an email about these specific allegations.

When CB1 moved to a larger space in L.A. in 2015, Carolina Miranda profiled Beswick in the Los Angeles Times, and noted that he served time for embezzlement and filing false tax returns in 1997. “I don’t want to relive that experience, but I am a better person for having had that experience,” he told her at the time.

In their letter, the artists write, “We believed, as much of the LA arts community apparently did, that Mr. Beswick’s reform was an honest one. We were grateful for the opportunity his gallery provided as a space for exhibiting work and building a web of engaged, active members of the larger Los Angeles art community. We were grateful for the opportunity his gallery provided as a space for exhibiting work and building a web of engaged, active members of the larger Los Angeles art community. Unfortunately, our experience has proven otherwise.”

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