‘I did a lot of things wrong’: Why artists turned against a small-town gallery owner in B.C.

Marlowe Goring’s art gallery was the talk of the town when it opened in 2013 in the retirement community of Qualicum Beach, B.C.

The gallery featured the works of aboriginal artist Norval Morrisseau — “the Picasso of the North” — and various West Coast artists. There was talk of incorporating a chic wine bar.

But about a year and a half in, the gallery went bust and residents in this normally staid town are said to have become furious with Goring over unpaid debts and unaccounted-for paintings.

“Everyone was knocking on his door,” said Dan McLeod, a local builder who helped construct the gallery. “People were chasing him all over the place.”

While some people wrote off their losses, others set lawyers on Goring, posting angry blogs and even calling police in a bizarre series of disputes that illustrates the sometimes-ugly underbelly of the art world.

Goring, who has since filed for bankruptcy and moved to Victoria where he works as a framer, told the National Post he always assumed he could “sell my way” out of his debts, which was a mistake.

“I did a lot of things wrong, lost what little money I had, and most of my friends,” he said. “It was a shit show of my own making.”

A groundbreaking 2016 study laid out in stark terms the challenges of operating an art gallery.

German economist Magnus Resch sent out a survey to gallery owners across the U.S., Britain and Germany. Of the 1,300 respondents, 55 per cent reported revenues of less than $200,000 and 30 per cent operated at a loss.

Marlowe Goring opened a new art gallery in Qualicum Beach, B.C., in 2013 but was forced to shut down the following year, leaving behind a trail of broken friendships and allegations of unpaid debts and unaccounted-for artwork.

Goring, who had previously run a frame shop, chose an old Home Hardware location to open a gallery called Art Worx.

Goring turned to Ontario art wholesaler James White to supply him with a number of Morrisseau and other paintings. Under a consignment agreement, each time Goring sold one of White’s paintings, he was to pay White the wholesale price before pocketing the rest.

When White learned in July 2014 the gallery was shutting, he went to B.C. to try to recover his paintings. Goring turned over 13, but 22 pieces — with a retail value of $221,000 — were unaccounted for.

“We have been friends for years, our …read more

Source:: Nationalpost


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