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Art Futures Group

Posted: Feb 2, 2017 by    

Overpriced chinese contemporary art buy/lease scam

Complaint Rating:  91 % with 11 votes
91% 11
Contact information:
Hong Kong, Australia
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.

Art Futures GroupArt Futures GroupArt Futures GroupArt Futures GroupArt Futures Group

Complaint comments Comments (13)    Updated: Complaint country Australia Complaint category Arts & Humanities


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A  3rd of Aug, 2017 by    +2 Votes
I have also had exactly the same experience as you. I have two paintings, which no auction house will touch, whose rental stopped after the initial two year rental agreement. I had the paintings independently valued at around 50% of what I paid. Emails go unanswered, phone calls are not returned and I see with dismay that this operation is setting up in the UK as well. It seems clear that this operates almost like a Ponzi scheme: Paintings are bought from the artist in bulk, maybe at a discount. Sold to "investors" at inflated prices. Then they return your own money back to you at 6% for two years after which time the "rental" income stops. I doubt any of the paintings are ever rented. I have attempted repeatedly to view paintings at the rental location but am always met with excuses. Stay clear of this company. My only hope is that eventually enough people will come forward to discredit a company that is obviously an elaborate scam.
N  19th of Sep, 2017 by    +2 Votes
Dear Enquiries Mascot Parking and Tkn4aFuul, Please could you contact me I have similar experience, now I am left with paintings in wharehouse incurring storage charges, tried to sell to auction houses, there is no market, the price is a fraction of what I paid, no rental after 2 years, I asked to see the movement log of the paintings from wharehouse to corporate rental location, they gave excuses.
A  9th of Oct, 2017 by    +1 Votes
the company is a fraud and i have no idea how they are even allowed to conduct business. they have NEVER MOVED the art. i have check movement records. they don't do anything just spin pretty stories of how they are done. the artwork are now decorative pieces value. i e . not even 1/3 of what u paid. in singpore they even double sold or better not give you the piece even though u have ownership and the so called "only piece of certificate"
A  25th of Oct, 2017 by    +1 Votes
I am also facing the same issue now. I bought a painting in 2014, and I can't get my painting to be leased since 2016. I have been in contact with Douglas Lucas now since Jon Reade left the company. He also used the same delay tactic of the art piece being young etc etc. This company is a giant fraud- they take some of the money we paid for the art and pay us the first two years of the rental income (12% of the total value). Thankfully I didn't invest a lot of money on this. But I will be getting some reporters in Hong Kong that i know of to start investigate on this issue, and perhaps expose the fraud to the public.
N  6th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
@cheatedbyAFG I bought a painting in 2014 and the storage period will be ended in 2019. I am afraid I can't get back my painting after I saw the above posts. Should we contact more AFG victims?
A  9th of Nov, 2017 by    +1 Votes
Is there a collective lawsuit that we can pursue with Art Futures
N  9th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
@The Wolnys Yea... pull our resource together and sue them for fraud and misrepresentation. I'm in if there's a lawsuit launched on them.
A  14th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
I am the victim too. Please contact me and I hope we can come up with any solutions!
N  24th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
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
N  24th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
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


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.
A  24th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
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!
N  27th of Nov, 2017 by    0 Votes
@AFG victim Please let me know if there is a group set up to go against AFG and the valuation company. I too have been scammed.
N  11th of Dec, 2017 by    0 Votes
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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