• Report: #1134277

Complaint Review: 1st Art Gallery

  • Submitted: Thu, March 27, 2014
  • Updated: Thu, March 27, 2014

  • Reported By: Richard — Manchester Other
1st Art Gallery
Internet USA

1st Art Gallery Website promised "museum quality"; delivered total rubbish Internet

*Consumer Comment: In support of the complainant

*Author of original report: So Who’s Got the Personality Disorder?

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Nobody can

*Author of original report: Rebuttal? Really?? More like Reinforcement.

*UPDATE Employee: Petty individual, must play by his rules

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I ordered a painting from 1st Art Gallery. I picked them because their website promised “museum quality” pictures that the original artist would be happy to endorse. There were also a large number of testimonials from happy customers.

For various reasons, I could not inspect the painting immediately and it was over 7 days later before I looked at it. I was horrified when I did see it, as the whole painting was clearly painted to a standard well below the original.

I contacted them immediately, explaining that I had only just seen the painting for the first time and was very dissatisfied. Their response was that they thought my expectations were high for the cost. I wrote back saying, yes, my expectations were high, but only as high as the wording on their website led me to have. This turned out to be a big mistake on my part. These people do not like to be challenged, and relations (via emails) rapidly deteriorated. [continued below]....

..... The representative from the company scattered his emails to me with scorn, insults and threats.

Some examples (all direct quotes):

“Are you really surprised that the original which is worth MILLIONS is painted better than a copy that had cost only a few hundred dollars?”

“We had experience servicing hundreds of people a month and I can easy recognize when someone has a personality disorder and / or is being unreasonable. Keep in mind that we have all your personal information and that posting lies on the internet is illegal, you might find yourself with a lawsuit for liable (sic), and your own name posted on the internet with warning for people not to deal with you.”

“To say that you were "deceived" is preposterous, we will post this image online along with your name and a copy of the lawsuit that we will file against you. Any person with an ounce of a brain will see that you're insane.”

There is quite a lot more in the same vein, but that’s enough for a flavor.

They have indeed posted the image online – they really do seem to be proud of it, which is worrying.  They are incapable of distinguishing a good painting from a poor one – not healthy given their line of business.

The painting is Brueghel’s Hunters in the Snow. The whole point about Brueghel and the Northern Renaissance is the detail. At any point you should be able to look at the painting and take pleasure in the realistic depiction of what is there.  Without that detail, it’s like a car with a flat battery: superficially it seems ok, but it’s lifeless and useless.

I accept that at the level of detail shown on their website it is impossible to tell the difference. But that completely misses the point, because in the actual ‘reproduction’ canvas there is really no more detail than you can see here – and it’s a big canvas. It’s a disaster: at least two levels of quality below ‘museum quality’. I still have their original so I can provide pictures at any level of detail if anyone wants to see more.

This is clearly not painted to museum standard, or any standard that Brueghel would have allowed out of his studio (it would have destroyed his reputation at a stroke). The fact that 1st Art Gallery think that this painting is good enough to prove their claims of quality makes them look very foolish and ignorant. And the fact that they rely on a gallery of paintings that you can’t enlarge to illustrate their ‘quality’ only underlines how superficial and dishonest they are.

But go back to the first statement quoted from them: “Are you really surprised that the original which is worth MILLIONS is painted better than a copy that had cost only a few hundred dollars?”  This says it all in identifying what these people are like. Firstly, it is saying “we don’t, never have, and never will produce paintings of top (i.e. museum) quality.” Therefore this claim on the website is a lie. Secondly, it is saying “we view you with contempt for expecting that level of quality”. Thirdly, it shows a pathetic lack of understanding of what actually gives a work of art value. These people do not care about art at all – only about fleecing as many customers as they can. The only correct response to their indignant question is “Well, yes, I am surprised, because this is exactly what your website promised.”

1st Art Gallery have said to me (twice) that I can send the painting back – at my expense – for improvements until I am happy with it. But since I missed the 7-day limit for refunds, they were absolutely rigid that there is no chance of getting my money back - despite the fact that I couldn’t see the painting in time. They completely fail (or refuse) to see my point that this painting is so far from the standard I expected that it would require complete repainting of everything except the sky. I cannot therefore see any realistic chance of this painting ever being brought up to an acceptable standard, especially in view of their scorn that I should expect better, and their stated belief that this painting is fine anyway. So I have decided to cut my losses, accept that I have lost more than $700 to these cheats, and find someone who will give me the quality I need. I have waited quite a long time to post this, because I wanted to prove to myself that their scornful jibe was false, and that I could get a faithful copy of this old master at an affordable price. It did cost me more, and I did need to wait longer, but it was still well within my budget, and definitely worth the wait. I am totally delighted with it, just as I was disgusted by the apology for art that I was sent by 1st Art. I won't tell you here who I got it from (you will need to do some homework) because I confidently suspect that these people would turn very nasty towards that supplier (they are clearly that type), and that would not be fair.

Let me give 1st Art Gallery their due: they are no worse in their advertising claims than a number of other sharks offering Chinese painted oils at absurdly low prices for “museum quality”. The point is that this is all a scam at this level.  There are many companies operating at this level, relying on the fact that most customers don’t notice or don’t mind the discrepancies between what they are promised and what they get. 1st Art Gallery are probably no worse than the other frauds posting false promises of high quality. But where they are spectacularly bad is in their reaction to criticism, which is hysterical and absurdly aggressive.

In summary, these people make cynically false claims about their products, and if challenged will treat you with contempt, or worse. Everyone who has used them has been scammed, because they never deliver the quality they claim, even if the vast majority of customers don’t notice or don’t care.

When thinking about buying an oil painting, bear in mind that what you put on your wall says a lot about you. If you get one of these people’s paintings, I can only think of two things you may be saying. One is: “I’m a sucker. I know nothing about art, but I think that uncritically hanging an oil painting on my wall makes me look good”. Believe me, in the eye of anyone who knows anything about art, you just look ridiculous. The other thing you may be saying is “I know this isn’t museum quality, but it’s cheap, and I’m a cheap  third-rate person, so third-rate is good enough for me.” I can’t think of any other possible interpretation.

I am amazed that there are so few negative posts about these people – I think that they must be manipulating the ratios of good to bad reviews somehow – but the bad reviews all have the same theme: a complaint about poor quality met with contempt, outrageous aggression, insults and threats. The company tries wherever it can to claim that these reviews were posted by competitors. They can’t do that in my case (I have both the emails and the painting, and can prove everything I say), and given my experiences, I don’t believe the ‘competitor’ slurs – these other descriptions match perfectly to mine. Despite the overwhelming ratio of good reviews on Trustpilot, these people are bad news. They are best avoided. And I now know that you can find much better out there.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/27/2014 04:21 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/1st-Art-Gallery/internet/1st-Art-Gallery-Website-promised-museum-quality-delivered-total-rubbish-Internet-1134277. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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2Author 2Consumer 1Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

In support of the complainant

AUTHOR: Robert Rosenbaum - (USA)

I have made the same negative experiences. The quality is much below the guaranteed  "museum quality", if you complain a certain "David" quickly becomes utterly agressive and abusive.

They also refuse to disclose business contacts. 1st Art appears to be web company managed by just 2 persons: John and David, no surnames ever disclosed.

Be warned ! Do not buy from them !

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#2 Author of original report

So Who’s Got the Personality Disorder?

AUTHOR: Richard - ()

These people really are the most tiresome sad lowlife. I said (completely truthfully – and provably) what I thought of these people 12 months ago and then moved on. But now I find that they can’t let it go, and now after a year they have unleashed another volley of insults and smears. They accuse me of having a personality disorder (actually they accuse virtually everyone who is unhappy with their service of having a personality disorder – it’s one of their standard ripostes, along with being in league with a competitor).

This is a quote from the Ripoff Report introduction: “All companies make mistakes. It is the ones that learn from their mistakes that will benefit the consumers the most.” f*g did make a mistake: they sent me a painting that was so far below museum standard (their main claim that persuaded me to order from them in the first place) that it was irredeemable. But they are totally unable to accept that they got this wrong, that they are anything other than faultless, and therefore have to accuse me of having problems. Look at the evidence; if there is a personality disorder, where is it more likely to be?

They have also accused me of telling a catalog of lies. I resent this, coming as it does from a company I regard as being the most dishonest I have encountered. I stand by everything I have said.

Their main point in this new rebuttal is that I claim that their good testimonials are faked. I have never done this; I have simply expressed surprise that the ratio of good to bad reviews is so one-sided, because I am certain that there will be many who have received paintings as poor as mine. But I have never doubted that the people who say they are happy with their picture are happy. But can these people tell museum quality from crap? I suspect that many can’t. Notice that none of their testimonials are actually from museums or art galleries. Their key witness: Chris Koster the Attorney General of Missouri – he’s a lawyer/politician: what does he know about art? Further, his testimonial was about a minor artist, George Caleb Bingham - ever heard of him in any art history class? It should not be too difficult for the Chinese artists to knock up something that would impress such a person. I was going to say that I can accept that the artists f*g use will produce many paintings to an acceptable standard, but I have just looked – really looked – at the testimonials on the f*g site, and I’m now sure that almost all the paintings are nowhere near museum quality. Look yourself - if you can’t see how lifeless and superficial these paintings are, then you will probably be happy with the cr*p these people deliver, but never, NEVER, show such paintings to anyone with an art / art history background. You possibly will never know it (depending on how polite these people are) but you will have made yourself a laughing-stock in the local cultured community.

If f*g are certain that I have lied, then I see that Ripoff Report now offer an arbitration service to assess the accuracy of reports filed here. I challenge them to use the service and to have an objective assessment of this dispute posted here. I would also remind them that I still have the painting they sold me, as they wouldn’t take it back, so I have hard evidence for my claims of sub-standard quality, in every respect: it is not museum quality canvas, not museum quality paint, and not a museum quality reproduction of the original painting.

Bring it on! Put up, or shut up.

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#3 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Nobody can

AUTHOR: David - ()

Nobody can fake dozens of VIDEO testimonials:


And nobody can fake testimonials from people such as Chris Koster the Attorney General of Missouri. We would have been sued for millions. There are dozens of testimonials on our website from different organizations and prominent individuals, if they would have been fake we would have been sued. No other company has such testimonials.

From the style of writing and the amount of lies it is obvious that this person is either a fake customer sent by one of our competitors OR simply someone with a personality disorder who is looking for some significance and importance in by getting angry with no reason and spreading venom.

It was offered to him that we will improve the painting for free but he preferred paying more and waiting a few months for a different painting from somewhere else? This doesn't make any sense. Again, either a fake review or someone with a serious problem.  

With tens of thousands of paintings sold for more than 12 years you can be confident ordering from us. On the other hand if you're someone about to deal with this "Richard", I'd think about that twice.

Please call our customer support line at 888 - 417 - 8278 with any questions.



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#4 Author of original report

Rebuttal? Really?? More like Reinforcement.

AUTHOR: Richard - ()

I was so pleased to read 1st Art Gallery’s “rebuttal” of my complaint. Now everything I have said about them is publicly confirmed in their own words.

Their piece opens with the usual mixture of insults and venom, confirming their approach to customer service when faced with a complaint (I’m not alone – refer to other entries on Ripoff Report). As the Ripoff Report website says: “All businesses will get complaints. How those businesses take care of those complaints is what separates good businesses from bad businesses”. Now it’s clear how 1st Art Gallery manages complaints, and what sort of business they are.

I made the point that you can get better than the rubbish provided by 1st Art Gallery (F.A.G. for short); you do – reasonably - have to wait longer for a good artist to do justice to an art master, and you have to pay them more for their time, but it is still affordable and the wait is worth it. The very speed and cheapness of F.A.G.’s offering is a sure indication that the quality just isn’t there. And yet F.A.G. are still making a virtue of their speed and cheapness. They just don’t get it.

F.A.G. also have no understanding of the proverb “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. I studied the History of Art at university level at a top flight British university, and I have a post-graduate degree in History of Architecture from another. I know what I’m talking about, I know what museum quality is, and I can recognize it when I see it. F.A.G.’s offering was so far below that standard that it was a poor joke, and an insult, both to the artist and me. The painting is just a crude reference to the original, very perfunctorily executed. I do not criticize the skill of the painter, who was clearly competent. But the time spent on the painting was about a quarter of what would have been necessary to begin to reproduce the original. It consists of daubs of paint mostly put in almost the right places, but with no detail whatsoever. It is terrible all over – it is not a case of a few details being wrong. There is no way F.A.G. would have paid for a complete and slow reworking of the picture, so to send it back at my expense would not have worked (and of course they know that).

Remember that I still have the painting – I can prove all this. This offer is merely a smokescreen, to make F.A.G. look more quality and customer orientated than they ever have any intention of being. “Send back (at your expense (to China)) the sow’s ear we sent you, and you will get a silk purse in return.” Really?? Is anyone on this planet stupid enough to believe that? And refer to other customers’ experiences when they tried to return paintings.

Now the best bit: these people cannot even understand their own product. F.A.G. claim that After 11 years in business we have identified the optimal price to quality ratio and produce all our paintings to the same standard”. Yes! I agree! That is exactly what they do (although it’s a lie that they have identified that ratio). But that is so NOT “museum quality”. For any educated or intelligent person, this is a no-brainer. But two paragraphs later, F.A.G. say: “We advertise precisely what we sell, museum quality handmade reproductions”. Are they really so stupid? Can they really not see that within two paragraphs they have blown themselves out of the water? It seems so. And their profound stupidity gets worse.

I have been wondering for a while how a company as bad as this gets so many good reviews. I’m sure that a huge number are faked somehow or other, but I now understand why these people are so frantically aggressive in downputting anyone who doubts their credentials: they are the ultimate “Emperor’s New Clothes” in business.

They mention “our studio”. There is no such thing. I was invited to send my painting back to an address in China. Since this fiasco began, I have done some research, and found out how these people work. There are numerous studios with skilled painters in countries with lower wages – a lot in China, but also India, South East Asia, possibly Russia – wherever painters can be commissioned for low rates of pay. And they all paint to the same level. There are also many fronting companies, just like F.A.G., that exist to take customer orders and route them to such a jobbing studio. But since the studios will take any commission from anyone, and since the fronting companies will send their commission to any studio, what added value do companies like F.A.G. provide? Well, just two things. Firstly, taking and routing the order and payment. And secondly, managing the customer experience until they are satisfied. Oh dear. It seems that F.A.G. have taken the one thing that could really make them stand out, and made them stand out in a really bad way.  Stupid, or what?

You can go to any of the outfits offering “high-quality” oil paintings at really low prices and get just the same standard, very possibly painted in the same studio, and also very possibly by the same painter. F.A.G. are absolutely nothing (in fact I think they are only two people – David and John). They are only a front for this process, and the industry of the Asian studios. They never even see the paintings; they are shipped directly from the studio. It is the Asian studios that have identified and follow the optimal price to quality ratio that F.A.G. claim for themselves. So it becomes clear why they are so obsessed with building a convincing website and testimonials, and why they are so aggressive and paranoid when anyone questions their infallibility. One effective p***k and they deflate completely.

Ok, the bottom line. F.A.G. have lots and lots of glowing testimonials on their website (of course), and also on sites like Trustpilot. But I have in front of me a painting sold to me by F.A.G., and it is glaringly obvious that it is rubbish – painted to a totally unacceptable standard. And yet F.A.G. claim that all their paintings are produced to the same standard. These facts cannot be reconciled, so there is a big lie somewhere. Is it me? Am I so sick and twisted, as David claims, that I would spend my time inventing a complete fabrication to get at a few insignificant people who live on another continent? I can assure you that I have many better things to occupy my time, but these people’s dishonesty, aggressive bullying and hypocrisy have riled me, so I’m spending more time than I would really like in trying to bring them down a peg or two. I am not lying. Dishonesty angers and disgusts me; these are profoundly dishonest people.

So why so many rave reviews for these shysters? There are numerous ways these fraudsters have perfected. Everyone who orders from them is encouraged to write a favorable review. We already know that the studios paint to a standard that is ‘good enough’ for many people not to notice that it’s actually quickly and cheaply done. So out of these customers, some will be of the ‘raving‘ sort, who like to see their names on the web being positive about this mediocrity. These, of course, are the reviews that appear on their website, and are further posted on sites such as Trustpilot (although I suspect that many entries here are not from genuine customers). As for the really unhappy customers, like me, all I can say is that F.A.G. have managed, at the time of writing this, to get my review removed from Trustpilot. They know how to play the system – it’s all they do all day.

F.A.G. are devoid of all business ethics. They are also capable of being spectacularly devoid of business etiquette.


Don’t use them: there is no value they can add, and you risk having a very unpleasant experience if you hint at any dissatisfaction with them. 

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#5 UPDATE Employee

Petty individual, must play by his rules

AUTHOR: David - ()

1st Art Gallery receives very few negative reviews because only very few people are sick and twisted enough to give such a review when it is undue.

This person admits that he was late to contact the company in time to enjoy the full money back guarantee that we offer. He confirms that he declined the offer to ship the painting back to our studio so it could be improved until he was 100% satisfied with it and he admits that it took him many months to receive a painting that he was happy with and that he paid a significant higher amount for it.

After 11 years in business we have identified the optimal price to quality ratio and produce all our paintings to the same high standard that results in hundreds of satisfied customers each month and an endless stream of repeat business.

We display on our website dozens of Video Testimonials and thousands of pictures that were sent to us by satisfied customers as they showoff their beautiful paintings hanging on their walls. Unfortunately a small minority of individuals is loud, rude, and violent. We accept that as part of our business and are grateful that we rarely encounter such persons.

We advertise precisely what we sell, museum quality handmade reproductions, and we will continue to serve our tens of thousands of happy clients who return to us whenever they are need for high quality art.

We therefore would like to warn anyone from dealing with this individual: Richard Seed 649 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6BA.

And finally, here is a testimonial from Chris Koster the Attorney General of Missouri: "George Caleb Bingham is one of the State of Missouri's most well-known artists. He takes on additional significance because of the role he played in state government, serving as Treasurer of our state during the middle 19th century. This conference room within the Attorney General's office is dedicated to his work. 1st-Art-Gallery's reproduction of his paintings are impressive and extraordinarily well done. Your work is greatly appreciated. "

To read thousands of additional testimonials please visit: 1st-art-gallery.com/testimonials.html

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