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Art Futures Group - overpriced chinese contemporary art buy / lease scam

L
Author of the complaint
11:36 am
Review updated:
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After completing an online survey about purchasing art from Hong Kong, with leases in place, I purchased 5 paintings between May 2012 and October 2013, all offered with corporate leases in place, returning 6% per annum.
AFG's salesman, James O'Dell, pushed hard over the phone, not allowing me to talk, and railroading me into buying. I never thought to check current values of the artists works (big mistake) nor to question the ongoing lease of the art, which was my way of seeing a sustainable income for the future.
AFG tout themselves as 'experts' in art broking, and will handle exit strategies when the time is right.
I was offered 5 years storage and free insurance on each piece, photos, sales contract, provenance and where the art would be stored.

A few months before the 1st painting's 2 year lease contract was about to end I started to ask what was going to happen with a new lease. Emails went unanswered for months with weak excuses why. Statements were made that the works might not re-lease. To cut it short, NONE of my paintings, nor the 3 paintings my sister also purchased, re-leased and are currently sitting in storage in Hong Kong.
As AFG claim they are in the business of corporate art leasing, it stunned us that suddenly AFG couldn't lease our paintings again!
The managing director Jon Reade, after several emails, offered to re-lease the works at the same amount, which we declined, and nothing further was done.
After numerous emails, I demanded to see records of the paintings movement between artist, storage (for inspection), then transport to the lease client, and transport back into storage as suspicion that the paintings never were leased in the first place.
I also requested up to date prices for similar works by same artists, to check if the promised 20% gain per annum was realised on AFG's current price list. Of course there was no gain after 4 years.
I was sent a list of expected gain on investments, including wine, property etc, showing art appreciating 99% in 5 years! I also checked auction results of all the artists, and all had sold similar pieces for far less than I had paid! One piece (all artists have series of works with the same theme, so pieces are identical in size, medium, subject matter) I paid Aus$42, 500 and the auction value was $24-$30, 000! For artists in my portfolio that had sold similar works at auctions were far less than I had purchased the pieces.
When I emailed AFG about the huge difference, I was given the 'spiel' about how auctions work, blah blah, all negative.
I contacted several well known auction houses in Hong Kong and China, including Sotheby's and Bonhams and others with a view to sell the works at auction. EVERY auction house I contacted declined to take the works most stating there was NO MARKET for these pieces.
I tried to claim the difference in value for these paintings to the current auction value with no compensation from AFG.
I have asked repeatedly for information on how to best sell them, continually being put off to wait till 'early 2017', which again was met with not a good time to sell, auction houses don't take art under 10 years old, blah blah.
I visited Hong Kong in 2013 to see the paintings and was very surprised that 4 of the paintings were so easily 'removed' from the corporate lessee to AFG's offices.

Basically I feel cheated by fast talking salesmen, who have been rude, abrasive and evasive in answering straight forward questions about our investment in their recommended mid career artists "about to go Blue Chip", and the guarantees AFG gave about their appreciation, which has NOT happened.

In conclusion, buyers beware, do your homework about the real value of these works, and if AFG are recommending an artists and their series of works, check auction results and buy the piece for far less directly yourself!

We would like a full refund of all monies paid, including the guaranteed 20% /annum appreciation on these works.

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Jul 26, 2020 12:37 am

Apologies to any of you who have not heard back from me...this website is a bit 'clumsy' for finding threads, and as the email I initially used for this thread is no longer active, I'm not receiving messages. (I have tried to get a new email added here without success)... if you wish to email please use [email protected] as there is new things happening, after several years of campaigning.

As these posts are also read by former staff of AFG (now taken over by Macey and Sons - Jonathan Macey is also a founding member of AFG!), updates are only on the FB group and you will need to provide some form of i.d., showing you have purchased art from these businesses, or have reason to be a supporter.

Basically funds are needed to set up a website to continue the campaign. Many of you have stated here you are interested in contributing, so now is the time to put your money where your mouth is!
Email me! and contribute to https://www.gofundme.com/shutting-down-a-worldwide-art-scam
Cheers Lucette

May 16, 2020 9:28 pm

Trouble posting all the pics under one submission - heres Luo Brothers signatures (3 brothers)

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May 16, 2020 9:26 pm

Luo Brothers signatures (3 brothers) - compare the two signatures!

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May 16, 2020 9:22 pm

Hi all I am still very active in attempting to get answers from Macey and Sons (who bought out AFG) with just statements of 'understand your frustration'. Oh really? Jonathan Macey understands my frustration of investing over HK$1 million on unsellable art, not being able to find ANY contact details on the internet for any of the artists I hold, and now on closer inspection of certificates of authenticity supplied by AFG, have discovered that some of the signatures do not match the painting, and one in particular, from Luo Brothers (3 of them) ABSOLUTELY looks digital. Attached is my certificate, and the other is the backside of one of their pieces that was sold at auction by Sotheby's (Luo Brothers only sign 'on verso'), you tell me if im mistaken! check your certificates! not that it will do you any good. cant do class action for 'business to business' (as this type of sale was classified by HKCC). Also pics of my Shen Jingdong, which not only do signatures not match (according to Shen, if it is indeed Shen I'm in contact with by email, the ONLY artist who has a website), saying one is pen and one is paint, ahem, should still roughly look the same!, but the piece is called Bookworm on the certificate, yet on Shen's website its called Reading.

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Apr 09, 2020 8:56 pm

If you wish to join the Facebook group, here is the link - https://www.facebook.com/groups/AFGfraud/ - you will need to supply documentation which you can paste into the messenger window, after I reply to your request. FB messenger notifications is really dodgy, as once you open just one of the unread messages, it will remove any notification of further unread messages, meaning a lot of you who have asked to join are not seeing these replies from me. CHECK your messenger!

Apr 07, 2020 11:13 pm

Here is the retracted article originally written for Bloomberg - its been removed all over the net, so this is the ONLY place to read it on a public domain - Investors Are Losing Millions by Buying and Leasing Chinese Art
[protected]:00:00.3 GMT

By Frederik Balfour
(Bloomberg) -- In her first foray into the world of art
investing, Lucette d’Angelique got an offer that seemed too good
to turn down.
Buy a work of contemporary Chinese art, which was
appreciating at as much as 20 percent a year, then lease it to a
corporation for a guaranteed 6 percent annual return.
The company making the pitch, Art Futures Group, said a
client had already been signed up to lease the painting, but she
would need to act quickly as several other potential buyers were
also looking at the work.
So d’Angelique plunked down HK$198, 000 ($25, 223) for an oil
painting by Hou Qing featuring a young Chinese woman in a red
dress, clutching a bottle of Hennessy cognac. "I was thinking,
wow, what a great investment."
A few months later, while attending an open house at the
AFG gallery, she was surprised to see her painting was on
display to promote the artist and not hanging in someone’s
office. Still, the monthly dividend checks kept arriving, so she
brushed aside her concerns, eventually spending another HK$1.1
million on four more paintings.
After two years, the leasing contract on her painting “Red
Hennessy” expired. AFG told her it wouldn’t be renewed. The
story was the same for her other purchases once the initial two-
year rental period expired. She was told the leasing market had
gone quiet and it was too soon to try and sell her paintings.
Frustrated by AFG’s failure to respond to her further
queries, she tried to place her works with several Hong Kong
auction houses.
"Not one of them wanted anything to do with these
paintings, " she said. The best she could get was an offer from
Sotheby’s to sell a Shen Jingdong painting online with a reserve
price of HK$10, 000 ($1, 274), about 3.5 percent of the HK$288, 000
she had paid for it. Sotheby’s declined to comment on Shen
Jindong’s artworks.

Buyers’ Forum

d’Angelique isn’t the only one suffering buyer’s remorse.
More than 50 people have signed up to a private chat group on
Facebook for AFG clients that she created. Interviews with more
than a dozen other AFG clients tell a similar story. The average
price they paid per painting was about $25, 000.
AFG’s website says it has served more than 1, 000 clients.
In an e-mail exchange, AFG initially said the company’s founder,
Jeremy Kasler, would give an interview, but then said he would
respond to written questions instead. On receiving the
questions, the company said he was too busy to respond. In
response to two subsequent emails, the company said there was no
one else available to address the questions.
AFG isn’t the only company in Hong Kong offering to sell and
then lease art. Elliot James & Tyndal also sells Chinese
contemporary art with promises of an 8 percent return for two
years, said Divine Fung, who bought one of their paintings after
getting cold called by a sales representative. The company did
not respond to emailed questions.
Another firm, Collins & Kent International Fine Art, sold
editions of works by Damien Hirst and Salvador Dali, offering
7.5 percent rental income, until its Hong Kong office went bust
in 2017.
Mrs. Wong, a compliance lawyer who asked to use her
husband’s surname only, bought a Hirst print from Collins & Kent
a few months before the company closed. Now she says she’s stuck
with a painting she never liked and can’t sell.
"I was the perfect target, someone with enough money, very
little time and no knowledge of art, ” she said. “I am totally
embarrassed by my own stupidity and lack of due diligence."
A Melbourne-based company using the same name said it helps
some clients lease their purchases of "blue chip" European works
for a one-year period with yields between 3.5 percent and 7
percent as part of a broader business offering art storage and
logistics. It allowed the Hong Kong entity use of its name and
access to its artworks, the company said in an email.
The art-purchase-and-lease offer is particularly appealing
for people looking for a high-return alternative investment, but
find the world of galleries, art fairs and auction houses
intimidating.
"That’s where the model works, it preys on people by
speaking to them in a vocabulary they understand and offering to
be a trusted guide through this very opaque market, so buyers
probably let their guard down, " says Edie Hu, art advisory
specialist at Citi Private Bank in Hong Kong. "There is a
mystique to the art market and all of a sudden you have someone
who brings it down to your level. Nobody from galleries or
auction houses talks about return on investment."
Macey & Sons, which sells mostly European works of art and
antiques, was founded by former AFG employee Jonathan Macey, who
declined to discuss his former employer. He said his firm does
lease some pieces back from buyers it uses for publicity to
attract new clients, paying the owner up to 5 percent.
"We have a leasing program, not on all pieces, on certain
pieces we can show off around the world, ” Macey said. "You have
to reinvent the way you gain markets."

Free Whisky

His firm rents space at art fairs and held a free whisky
tasting in November for delegates of the Hong Kong AVCJ Venture
Capital Summit. In February Macey displayed a client’s HK$1
million 12 carat tiara at the Longines Masters equestrian event
in Hong Kong. His clients can even earn frequent flyer points
when they purchase his art.
AFG has set up a booth each year at the Asia Contemporary
Art Show in Hong Kong alongside other galleries, and has held
lucky draws to win a painting, according to d’Angelique, who
said she was contacted by phone “in minutes” after filling out
an online survey in 2012 to enter the contest.
Iris, who works in finance and asked that only her first
name be used, started getting calls from a salesman soon after
filling out an AFG questionnaire in exchange for a free face-
painting for her daughter in the upscale Hong Kong enclave of
Discovery Bay.
"He was very pushy and good at talking, like a car
salesman, " she said after buying a surrealistic painting of a
multicolored zebra by mainland artist Liu Liguo for HK$348, 000
in 2016. "If he had sold me a mutual fund or some other
investment I would have been a lot more careful. Without the
rental offer I probably would not have bought it."
She said she doesn’t believe her painting was ever rented
out and AFG simply overcharged her and paid the lease premium
from the sale proceeds. The leasing contract was drawn up
between her and AFG, not a corporate renter. She said AFG
wouldn’t tell her who would be leasing her painting.
Collectors Reveal Secrets of How to Make a Fortune in Art
While the claims of third-party leases may have been
unsubstantiated, the company hasn’t done anything legally
improper, said Wong, the lawyer.
One reason the strategy flourishes is the reluctance of
many former clients to speak out. Seven people who were
interviewed about their purchases work in banking and finance
and requested anonymity to protect their professional
reputations. Some of those who bought the artworks didn’t want
to talk about the experience.
That behavior is typical of people who fear they fell for a
scam because they feel ashamed, said a former Blackrock employee
who spent HK$625, 000 on art from AFG. Their shame is a natural
reaction and companies rely on it to prevent information coming
out about their operations, the person said.
But some who feel victimized don’t stay silent. H.L. Tan
decided to speak out after an AFG broker tried to sell him a
second painting five years after his first. "I was really
angry, " said Tay, a former stock broker who wrote off his
HK$248, 000 purchase years ago. "This is why I am coming forward,
as a warning sign to everyone not to get involved."

To contact the reporter on this story:
Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Pierre Paulden at [email protected]
Adam Majendie

Mar 23, 2020 10:19 pm

hi all, if you have applied to the FB group afgscam, check your messenger for a reply..i always reply, but fb does not keep a counter on unread messages (once you click on messenger it removes the count)..if this is confusing, just check your messenger messages for requests by me for yr invoice or other documentation to i.d. you..police action has been started and many members have sent their statement to hk police - the contact there is [email protected] - the more who sent in their statement the better the chance of action...there is no class action (so a hk lawyer advised me) and the cost to prepare a 'legal opinion' is around hk$25k...i started a gofundme to raise funds to get to hk and start researching there to try and sell the art, get govt. action and attempt to #givebackourmoney - i can tell you all that its not looking good as the info i have assessed from all sources appears that the art is not wholly completed by the signatured artist but by their students (to give cheap art to afg/maceys & others) who in turn on sell to everyone at ridiculous prices as afg etc, then in turn seed the auctions to bid up these same artists to then show the auction results, which in turn allows afg/maceys to push up their prices...i have it on GOOD authority that these high auction results are 'one offs', and the major auction houses are aware of the whole scam system, hence why NONE of us have been successful in getting our art sold - DO NOT let maceys et al con you into buying more art to enable them to sell yr existing art - its just good money after bad - to stop them in their tracks just say along the lines of 'the deal sounds interesting, but i will need to have the details emailed to me for my lawyer to look over'...you will receive the following in reply 'SILENCE'

Feb 26, 2020 8:52 pm

please add the following hashtag to all yours posts - get behind the movement #GIVEBACKOURMONEY

Feb 24, 2020 8:36 pm

Hi all, if you haven't asked to join the Facebook group against AFG and other rental art scams, then please request through Facebook - you will need to provide copy of your invoice showing art purchase or other info proving your i.d. to protect other members...in the meantime I recently spoke to Jonathan Macey, from Maceys and Sons who have bought out AFG. Jonathan states he 'bought out AFG in good faith' yet still not ONE of us has had an offer to sell our art, refund our money or give anyone an idea of when we can recoup our hard earned money...to this end Jonathan gave his email asking for anyone to tell their story to him (I believe it's because Douglas Lucas from AFG, now working for Maceys stated that 'all the complaints on this site are from just one disgruntled person, aka Moi!)...it goes to show that i have managed to keep spies out of the FB group, coz AFG/MACEYS would all realise there are dozens and dozens of us with the EXACT same story of fraudulent sales techniques, lies, exaggeration and basic over the top incentives (high yielding rental returns which are a ONE OFF but never advised to anyone) to invest our money with them...write him your story with a request to refund your money - GO FOR IT - [email protected]

Jul 07, 2019 6:32 pm

I have just heard from one of the FB group members, that they have decided to relinquish their hkd$168k painting in exchange for the unpaid storage fee (after the '5' year period free storage is up) of hkd5, 400. I thought AFG were ruthless and dishonest, but this is pure bottom of the barrel shysters who would not even offer a better deal than 3% of the original cost of the art. On the other side of this saga, this poor client has given up on ever seeing her investment return the huge 15-20%/annum gains promised by AFG's sales reps (hardly 'specialised' art brokers) preferring to be done with the whole fiasco and basically write off her money. Here in Australia we say 'SHAME SHAME SHAME' on you

Mar 07, 2019 7:57 pm

Hi everyone, if not done so already PLEASE ask to join the PRIVATE FB group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/AFGfraud/members/ to catch up with what we are all doing - also this article came out yesterday

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-06/investors-are-losing-millions-by-buying-and-leasing-chinese-art?fbclid=IwAR3VIcL7Sp5BHdqCjhNTHXtQjIykZ00KKP_YMus3r2atroyp0VdA97EGZKs

cheers

Jun 28, 2018 5:43 pm

Sometimes working with social media is a nightmare! cant get why afgscam wont show up, but noted that FB wouldnt accept 'scam' for a valid moniker - have now registered this email - [email protected], use this from now on...I am a very dedicated social justice seeker and will NOT back down from the huge workload ahead of us..could those resident in Hong Kong please advise as 'feet on the ground' are needed to do some legwork - i am in Australia, with a huge workload at the moment, so all assistance is required to put pressure on the artworld who have turned their backs on us!

Jun 24, 2018 9:42 pm

Hi everyone scammed by Art Futures Group, I have started a Facebook page to at least have us all under one umbrella, where we will receive notifications, and everyone who joins the group can post links etc. to move us all forward to not only closing this business down, but somehow getting some satisfaction monetarily and emotionally...please please join the group asap as it will carry more weight and get some attention from authorities! FACEBOOK group is private, called AFGSCAM - once all of you have joined, we will petition the Hong Kong consumer council for either assistance or direction to where we can take this further!

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M
Oct 18, 2019 11:36 am

Hi everyone, I am M Chan and am also a victim who started to buy art pieces from AFG since 2015. I just received an email from Macey and Sons Auctioneers and Valuers Limited. It claimed to have taken over AFG, and asked me to give it instruction by 31 Oct 2019 on whether to engage it for further storage after the "storage end date".

Does any one have any idea on the recent development of this issue? Thanks a lot!

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T
Jun 12, 2019 11:36 am

The suggestion that all these complaints are by one person is ridiculous – just another attempt by AFG to try and conceal the common experience of their victims – art sold at prices that are totally divorced from reality, art sold on the basis on non-existent leases, rock-solid assurances that AFG will arrange for the art to be sent to auction at the end of the rent-free storage period which are never honoured etc etc etc.

Everyone who feels they have been defrauded by AFG (or anyone else) should report to the Hong Kong Police's Anti-Deception Coordination Centre either by phone or by using the on-line reporting facility: https://www.police.gov.hk/ppp_en/04_crime_matters/adcc/contact.html

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T
Jan 05, 2020 11:36 am

Hello everyone, I'm Thomas and also a victim in AFG scam. Bought 4 pieces in 2016. Has anyone file to the police yet? I wish to take part in any action this group may have. I have sent request to join FB "Afgscam" private group, and pending for approval.

All e-mail addresses on this website is shown [protected], so I have no idea how else to get in contact with the group.

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J
Jun 11, 2019 11:36 am

So apparently AFG thinks the all the complaints on this group have been made by one person! How arrogant ! I am an individual client of AfG, my AFG customer number is AFG-C0350 and I am a real person who has been ripped off! I'm moving my works out of their scam storage to another facility this week - hooray! But I bet I never see my money back from the original investment! Anyone else who bought from them yes, you should be VERY VERY concerned! Kiss you $$ good-bye!

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M
Oct 18, 2019 11:36 am

Hi JanF, Did you succeed in moving your art piece(s) to another storage facility? Thanks

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S
Jun 01, 2019 11:36 am

We also bought one piece of Chinese art just over two years ago, and another early this year...and guess what, the rent on the first one stopped this month after two years. Now I am worried.

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T
Mar 07, 2019 11:36 am

Some good coverage of the extent of the problem reported in Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-06/investors-are-losing-millions-by-buying-and-leasing-chinese-art

It would have been helpful if they report had queried the supposed leases to corporate clients which nobody every gets renewed unless they buy more overpriced junk - to repeat what I said earlier, if the leases are non-existent then the whole thing can be exposed as a complete fraud and the people selling the art charged under the Crimes Ordinance.

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C
Feb 04, 2019 11:36 am

AFG scammer and salesman jack brown is selling property investment in Indonesia 'Invest Islands' . com

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I
Dec 17, 2018 11:36 am

Funnily enough, also on Thursday, a publicist for a Jeremy Kasler wrote to offer an interview with "the investment expert who has helped over 5000 clients secure more than $600 million in alternative investments in property, art and wine". He even owns a Ferrari (and he's not even from the Gold Coast).

No, Kasler is British, and back in March 2000 left Australia after none other than the Australian Securities & Investments Commission closed down the unlicensed timeshare agency, Tourism Advisory Group, he was running. According to ASIC documents, Kasler was later an investor in an alleged scam investment company known as the Australian Wine Index, which was deregistered in 2010.

Seems like literally everybody gets a second – or third – chance, whether they deserve it or not.

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I
Dec 17, 2018 11:36 am

https://www.afr.com/brand/rear-window/royal-commission-villain-andrew-smith-prospers-beyond-st-george-20180419-h0z08d

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B
Nov 25, 2018 11:36 am

I have purchased several pieces from AFG over the past 1+ years and did some due diligence before starting with them. A gallery owner told me they were overcharging by about 20% or more, and she felt that most of the artists on their list were not worth collecting, but I bought a few by one recommended artist and a couple others I personally like. I also asked about the chances of renewing the 2 year rental contract, and was told by the sales person I dealt with at the time (Dan Couture) that they didn't usually renew, and it sounded like they didn't necessarily even go to real corporate renters. Nevertheless, I thought that with the extra services (insurance, valuation, storage), "rental income" and some gifted books & prints, that it was an OK deal. I was also told by my friend that art auction results can be very misleading, so I haven't given much credit to the auction results AFG showed me for all of the artists I purchased. I've grown tired of their aggressive sales tactics, and probably won't buy any more from them. Now that I know that the founder has a bad reputation and that that they have been over-promising customers and causing consumer complaints, I'm a little worried about the security of the art I bought from them...

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B
Oct 19, 2018 11:36 am

this company is a flat out scam, fraud, ponzi scheme, etc

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S
Sep 23, 2018 11:36 am

Hi, same experience.. only one painting bought.. and lease was taken off in 2 yrs.. def a ponzi scheme. Storage is up and we are gnna have to pay 5k from next year!

Nyways.. please let me know how i can join a group and happy to go to police or lodge complains

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H
Sep 23, 2018 11:36 am

Same story here but with an outfit called Collins & Kent in Hong Kong (now permanently closed but still open in Australia). Please add me to the list if there is one: [email protected]

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A
Aug 03, 2018 11:36 am

It appears Mr.Jeremy Kasler is setting up a new venture now that art seems to have run its course. There is no doubt that his client basis is thinning out dramatically so a new venture in property has commenced. It appears that CityYield is promising the magic 6% return with property now!

I wonder if it will be a 2 year option followed by the:

"Sorry we are so successful now we have too many investors and not enough clients for leasing. We don't recommend you sell now as the market is not right, hold for another 5 years and we will see what we can do for you then!"

I'm sure soon the name Kasler will appear atop of many google searches, he just needs to build that client base up from 5000 to maybe 6000 to retire in a place far, far away. Property might just help him do that now that he has burnt the art and wine industry.

Heres hoping your fourth chance is as prosperous as your first, second and third...

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T
Aug 01, 2018 11:36 am

1. REPORTING TO POLICE

In addition to the SFC, those in Hong Kong can report suspected fraud cases to the police:

1. The Anti-deception Coordination Centre provides consummation services: https://www.police.gov.hk/ppp_en/04_crime_matters/adcc/contact.html

2. Fraud can be reported through the HK Police e-reporting portal: https://www.erc.police.gov.hk/cmiserc/CCC/PolicePublicPage?language=en

There is no cost in doing either of these.

2. CONTACTING THE MEDIA

Lucette's suggestion of contacting members of the media is a good one. In doing so, I'd suggest making sure you stick to factual statements. Linking to AFG founder Jeremy Kesler's alleged involvement with wine investment firm (Australian Wine Index or AWI) whose sales people allegedly used similar techniques may help attract interest. Some links:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/man-behind-recent-investment-woes

https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/australian-wine-index-c435340.html?page=20#comments

As will the fact that prior to AWI, Jeremy Kasler allegedly ran an unlicensed timeshare agency in Australia before being shut down by the Australian securities regulator ASIC

Link (the relevant bits are in the last couple of paragraphs): https://www.afr.com/brand/rear-window/royal-commission-villain-andrew-smith-prospers-beyond-st-george-20180419-h0z08d

3. DISCUSS WITH YOUR ADVISERS

If you have a financial adviser, I'd suggest raising this with him/her. They may or may not be able to help in terms of advice, but even if they can't (they're not lawyers), it will help spread the word and hopefully prevent others from having the same experience that we have all had.

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B
Oct 19, 2018 11:36 am

i've sent a complaint for fraud to the HK police, let you know if anything comes of it

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V
Jul 21, 2018 11:36 am

Guys, you need to report them to the SFC, there is a very good chance they aren't allowed to sell investment products in HK as it is very strict. There are so many companies like that here. Forget about consumer complaints in HK as consumers have no right.

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E
Feb 22, 2019 11:36 am

These guys are undoubtedly scam artists, however I think the SFC are not the right regulatory authority as they only cover purely financial investments/securities, not physical assets. Although AFG market this rubbish as investments, if the SFC contacted them, they would no doubt say they just you some art. (Same as the SFC has no jurisdiction over dodgy real estate agents in HK.) Would suggest the other avenues like the HK Police and the media would work better.

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L
Jun 21, 2018 11:36 am

To all people who have posted regarding the despicable conduct of Art Futures Group in hyping their painting values, I did email several agencies, art dealers and even a recent podcast telling them of the fraudulent activity of a guest speaker on investment, Mr Jon Reade, managing director of AFG.
I only received one response, from the podcast people who said the interview was only about investment, so no foul! Yeah right..foul indeed as Mr Reade was self promoting his business.

Here is a link https://www.consumer.org.hk/ws_en/complaints_and_advices/how_to_complain/howtocomplain.html to place your own complaint, as if everyone does it, the weight of complaints should warrant some professional guidance and response.

Basically I want a refund of monies paid over the top of the value of the art (I emailed Jon Reade directly concerning same) only to be told, 'it depends who is bidding at the auction'.

If money back plus the touted 20% annual increase in the artworks value is returned, I doubt there would be enough for all us to get back our money.

We have foolishly trusted the salesmem of AFG, hoodwinked by very experienced 'talkers', and now we will repent in leisure, and hopefully our heirs will eventually prosper from the artworks increase in value.

I am disgusted with these people, that they lied to my face (on a visit to their Hong Kong office in 2013), dared to display my purchased works in their art space (without full permission) saying the corporate clients 'allowed' the works to be removed from display...another load of lies.

How is it after 6 years they're still in business? We ALL must lodge formal complaints first, then seek legal advice, and as quietly as possible, freeze AFG assets, stop their trading any further and recoup the losses.

If anyone lives in Hong Kong, start phone calling to every complaint agency there is, as from a previous experience I had with another fraudulent sale of real estate, no one listened to me, until a top notch investigative journalist here in Australia decided to get the crook. No we didn't get all our money back, but we at least didn't lose it all, and that man is no longer in business (that we know of).

I will get a Facebook set up sometime today, so ask EVERYONE here to like, post their story, and results of any action taken.

I am not receiving notifications from this website of posts, and can't seem to find where that setting is, but will continue to check back here.

Facebook page name ideas anyone? How about AFG whistle blowers? Let me know - email direct to [email protected]

Let's get some action on these fraudsters!

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A
Jun 16, 2018 11:36 am

The management behind AFG seems to have come from a background that seems questionable. Their dealings with customers should be noted as it is dubious why the are doing. If you conduct a search on the CEO you will notice he keeps a very low profile...

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T
Jun 12, 2018 11:36 am

I have just sent an e-mail regarding instructing solicitors to those whose e-mail addresses I have (although one has bounced back).

If you have not received the e-mail and would like to be included in the instructions, please let me have an e-mail address and I will copy you in.

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L
Nov 14, 2018 11:36 am

Please include me: [email protected]

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H
Sep 27, 2018 11:36 am

@traineeinvestor I have the same same experience. have sent you a message please include me.

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A
Sep 24, 2018 11:36 am

Same story here, 2 pieces bought from Jon Reade back in 2014. New guy Douglas Lucas is not helping. Happy to join the group, please add me at : [email protected]

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C
Sep 10, 2018 11:36 am

I am another potential victim in Hong Kong and I bought two paintings from them this year. Sarah Marie Lie was the broker in charge. Please kindly add me to the group: [email protected]

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N
Jun 20, 2018 11:36 am

@traineeinvestorI have an email address for you. Please keep me informed at: [email protected]

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K
Jun 20, 2018 11:36 am

I have had the exact same experience as everyone else - I got scammed by Jon Reade for 3 pieces in 2014. Please include me in your email: [email protected]

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J
May 31, 2018 11:36 am

I would be interested in any class action

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T
May 31, 2018 11:36 am

Has anyone actually taken legal advice on recovering from Art Futures and/or filed a criminal complaint with the Police? Given the number of comments on this web site showing exactly the same story:
1. lots of oral promises about the art market - probably not actionable unless it can be shown that they were false at the time they were made
2. representations that the art works could be sold at the end of the free storage period - contradicted by statements made when the storage period end
3. questions about whether the art works were ever actually leased in the first place - supported by refusal to provide requested documentation - if it can be proven that they were never leased then the whole scheme is a fraud
4. almost no-one being able to secure a "lease" after the initial two year period
5. high pressure sales calls to the effect that the art market had shifted and it was now necessary to by several paintings by the same artist to have any chance of securing a new lease.

While lawyers can be expensive, given that these paintings were not cheap, it may be worth investing in jointly instructing a firm of lawyers to advice on potential courses of action.

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T
May 08, 2018 11:36 am

My “free” storage is now up and I am being asked to pay an additional 5000+ HKD for an additional year and a “promise” that they will “try” to sell it but the market isn’t great. Has anyone else’s lease expired and what have you done as I do not want to sink anymore money into this scam without seeing some of my money back

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M
May 08, 2018 11:36 am

My storage will be up soon. If they ask me to pay for it, I will just take the painting and hang it on my wall, at least it's pretty. They will certainly not get a penny from me.

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S
Apr 21, 2018 11:36 am

I have 4 pieces. 3 of which are not earning since 2017. Can someone please advise what is the next step?

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M
Apr 18, 2018 11:36 am

I contacted them again and keep getting the same spiel about waiting longer for my art work to gain provenance, etc.
My question is, do any of you know anybody who got rental after the initial two years, or anybody who was able to sell their paintings with a profit?
The manager at AFG that I am dealing with was with a wine company before that also has a lengthy complant thread on this website, very unsettling.

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M
Jul 05, 2018 11:36 am

Hello! Thanks. I just sent a request to join your group. Cheers Michaela

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R
Apr 15, 2018 11:36 am

I had the same issue. I had three paintings with AFG. All my paintings came with a 2-year rental contract at guaranteed 6% per annum, and I was told that this is a very stable and low risk investment. Unfortunately, there were never any extension of rentals for any of my paintings after two years.

When I asked about rental extensions or selling my art, they gave excuses and transferred me to other people of the company. So far, I had spoken with five salesman, including Maggie Lau, Anna Lim, Bradly Tupa, James Odell, Daniel Couture and Douglas Lucas. None of them were able to answer my questions in relation to selling my art. I have no idea why this company is able to extend its business operations to other parts of the world when they couldn't even manage their existing clients.

If there is any collective action against this company, please email me and I would be happy to participate.
[email protected]

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P
Mar 27, 2018 11:36 am

I have the same issue and this I bought my art and now it can't rent or sell it and no one wants to buy the art for any value. we have all been cheated and we need to all get together to do something to try and get back our money!
if anyone going to do something about this please email me on [email protected] I have few other friends in the same boat as all of us!

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C
Mar 22, 2018 11:36 am

I just bought two pieces from them early this year...now I am worried and not happy at all. =(

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V
Mar 13, 2018 11:36 am

I confront the similar situation as well, keep looking forward the new rental which recommend by the art broker but nth. And now my storage will be up soon, I’m asking them help me to sell out my piece even they have higher charge of about 20-30%...but I’m not very positive on this case. If there is a group against with them please let me know too.

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J
Dec 11, 2018 11:36 am

Hello, My email/FB is [email protected]
Please add to me

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J
Dec 10, 2018 11:36 am
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F
Mar 12, 2018 11:36 am

Wondering if there is any way to raise a complaint against the AFG to the HK consumer complaints body ?

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S
Oct 02, 2018 11:36 am

How come you will trust an untrained staff and buy arts from them?

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M
Mar 11, 2018 11:36 am

I have exactly the same experience. Bought an obviously overpriced painting with a Roma appraisal, rental stopped after 2 years. Salesman stopped taking phone calls, never answered my e-mails, even pretented to be someone else on the phone - utterly ridiculous. My free storage will come to an end soon, and I do not have any illusions about selling it with a profit.

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F
Mar 11, 2018 11:36 am

Have any one of you taken actions yet? I also bought 2 art pieces and they were not rented after the first 2 years. Company is a total fraud and I checked the last auction prices for my art works and they were just a fraction of what I paid! Not sure how Roma could have appraised such a high value to the art pieces in the first place. Obviously? both companies, Roma and AFG are in cahoots.

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J
Mar 09, 2018 11:36 am

Yes, me too. I have two works no longer earning rental and I am now paying for storage. Bth purchased through AFG's James O'Dell. My current AFG broker does nothing when I ask about selling except to say its a valuable investment I should hang on to! Christie's Asian Contemporary Department in Hong Kong have today responded via Christie's here in Australia that these works will not be suitable for inclusion in one of their auctions. So what's the next step?

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K
Feb 15, 2018 11:36 am

I have the same issue and we should gather together. How can we contact one another? I can be reached at [email protected] Recently, they reached out to me and asked me to pay for my storage cost.

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M
Mar 11, 2018 11:36 am

Seems we were scammed in the same year, my storage will be up soon as well. I will send you an e-mail. With the Art Season starting in HK, they will go and look for investors :-(

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A
Feb 14, 2018 11:36 am

Does anyone know any journalists who might do an expose on them?

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F
Jul 11, 2019 11:36 am

I am trying to remove this note

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F
Dec 18, 2018 11:36 am

I am a Hong Kong-based journalist working on a story to expose the questionable sales tactics at Art Futures Group. I am on the AFGSCAM facebook chat as Freddie Balfour, my email handle.
I have spoken to four "victims" of AFG and am looking for more examples to strengthen my reporting.
I hope to hear from you. [email protected] or +[protected]
You can google Frederik Balfour to see some of my work.

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A
Feb 14, 2018 11:36 am

I think we need to get together and find out the true scale of this fraud. The UK and Hong Kong have laws that should at least stop the guilty from further exploitation.

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J
Dec 10, 2018 11:36 am

Yes,Thank you to startup the Facebook. Please accept my registration

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J
Jun 28, 2018 11:36 am

Cant find the page when i search FB!

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A
Jan 22, 2018 11:36 am

I am a victim too. I also bought 2 art works from Art Futures Group in 2012 and rented only for 2 years. Been trying to get their help to place the art works into auction since last year but Douglas Lucas kept giving excuses that the art works are not "old" enough. In fact, AFG even suggested that I buy more from them and promised that if i do so, they will help place my paintings into new corporate leases. I declined their offer as i didn't want to throw good money after bad.

Have anyone managed to take any action against them yet?

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J
Dec 19, 2017 11:36 am

Hello has anyone got any advice on how to take this further with a complaint to the Hong Kong Consumer protection board or equivalent authority?

Regards

Julian Bott
[email protected]

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G
Dec 11, 2017 11:36 am

I bought a painting in 2013 .James Odeli was the salesman .Rented for 2 years then no response.We should sue the company who placed the valuation.Also James Odeli should be put in jail for fraud.I believe he left the company

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A
Nov 24, 2017 11:36 am

I have contacted some auction houses and art galleries and none of them accept my art piece! To be honest I only saw the art piece once at AFG gallery. I am pretty sure the rental thing was fake in the first place! Till now, I really doubt that I can take the art piece from their storage. I can’t imagine this company which has world-wide media coverage is a scam!

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S
Dec 28, 2017 11:36 am

Is there a way to join all the victims together and sue the company? We should get this out and stop the company from cheating money from investors.

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T
Nov 27, 2017 11:36 am

Please let me know if there is a group set up to go against AFG and the valuation company. I too have been scammed.

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A
Nov 24, 2017 11:36 am

I'm sure we all have appraisal certificates from Roma Group for our pieces. these appraisals show "current market value" figures, which are clearly false. Roma group are a HK public company, (453 million HKD market cap) who have a specialist division in the valuation of fine art

www.romagroup.com/page.php?top_id=2&id=15&lang=1

Clearly they got this massively wrong or where under instruction from AFG to product these valuations, either way a potential claim against them stands out. Perhaps it might be worth requesting an up to date valuation form them independently and see what comes back.

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A
Nov 24, 2017 11:36 am

Same here, 4 pieces bought between 2014-15. Rental paid for first 2 years then stopped. I am constantly contacting AFG to either get further rentals, exit the pieces or even have them shipped to UK so I can at least have them on the wall! But as with all other comments on here I am not getting responses. Clearly a scam and we should get together to issue a lawsuit

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S
Dec 28, 2017 11:36 am

How can we contact all the victims? We should at least contact the reporters and get the news out and get the attention.

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