We recently got an email via Artists UK Dotnet from a French lady complaining about Château des Réaux (see other plentiful previous posts and comments on Château des Réaux !). It runs as follows:-
Désolée de répondre en français! Je suis également une “victime” de Château des Réaux. Je ne conteste pas le prix bas qui a été proposé, puisque je l’ai accepté. Cependant il était prévu une exposition au château des Réaux et dans d’autres lieux similaires en échange de l’abandon des droits annexes. Puisque l’exposition n’a pas eu lieu, ne peut-on contester les droits annexes ?
This translates into English for our non-French speakers as follows –
Sorry to reply in French! I am also a “victim” of Chateau des Reaux. I do not deny the low price that has been proposed, since I have accepted it. However, it was anticipated that there would be exposure at the Chateau des Reaux and other similar places in exchange for the abandonment of the ancillary rights. Since this exposure has not occurred, can we challenge the ancillary rights?
Hmmm, I think the answer is probably not. The whole point of the controversy over this “offer” was that the artist signs away any right to be associated with their original artwork for what, to most artists, is considered a pitance. Since, by the terms of their contract, Château des Réaux do not seem obliged to credit the artist at all, I’m not quite sure what kind of exposure at Château des Réaux or elsewhere would be of benefit to the artist anyway. Wasn’t the final verdict on Château des Réaux something along the lines of “avoid Château des Réaux unless you are totally desperate to sell a painting” or were we misreading the range of comments we received?
On 8th April we asked the UK representative for Château des Réaux’s art exhibition and competition for more detailed information because we had been contacted by the president of an artists agency in the USA and some artists expressing their concerns about the legitimacy of this exhibition. Since then we have also been contacted by a journalist who is curious about the way in which this exhibition competition has been advertised. We hope that this is a legitimate exhibition and competition that will be of benefit to artists but we have a number of reservations that prohibit us from offering it on our opportunities for artists page with a link to them. This is what we know or do not know so far :
- The exhibition competition is being run by Mr. Evgeny Yukhnytsya, the owner of Castle Reaux, who is apparently a well-known poet from the Ukraine. However, a Google search on Yukhnytsya gives nothing on him that was not written by his own staff. He is supposedly a well-known patron of the arts in France who has won a medal for his work (see below) so why is there nothing independentally written about him? Is there a valid reason or is he just what would be described in London by the technical term “a dodgy geezer”? We wish we knew!
- Ms. Nadia Ovchinnikova is our contact at Château des Réaux. She contacted us on 3rd March 2008 with respect to posting their art exhibition competition details on Artists UK DotNet. She has only been there for a few months and initially reacted angrily to the questions we asked about the art exhibition competition. We did a check to ensure that the telephone number given was actually registered to Château des Réaux and this does appear to be the case.
- Then she sent us an image of the award Mr. Yukhnytsya won from Academie Mazarine for his patronage of the arts (in the music field last time apparently). We have looked at Academie Mazarine. Although the Mazarines are an old order this appears to be a commercial website and it is difficult for us to assess the true value of this award. It doesn’t seem to compare to any such award we would have in the UK. It does not appear to be endorsed by any Governmental body for instance. Again, with no record elsewhere of him being awarded this and nothing on his poetry etc it is hard to substantiate the claim. That doesn’t mean he was not given this award for being a patron of the arts but what this award really signifies is uncertain.
- Ms. Ovchinnikova became vague about who the judges would be, claiming it was being kept as a surprise. Who for? Surely any artist submitting work would want to know in advance who is going to judge it and what their credentials are. wouldn’t they? We wonder if anyone is ever going to know who the judges are. After promising to send more information she has done nothing at all so far.
- There is no information regarding any independent accountants being involved to audit the competition and the giving of awards. Château des Réaux do not even state how and where the winners details will be published.
- Their contract clearly states what the agenda is. The artist agrees to sell them their original oil painting with full title transfer for 305 Euros. This means that the artist retains no rights to the painting and Mr. Yukhnytsya can sell it for whatever he likes and also get royalties on the sale of reproductions, income from licensing etc forever afterwards. Is this really in the artist’s best interests or is it mostly in Mr. Yukhnytsya’s best interests? Is 305 Euros for full title transfer on an original oil painting a reasonable offer? Sounds very low to us. They say on their contract that this isn’t for everyone. Does that mean it is only for the really desperate? Isn’t that a form of exploitation? If you are an artist you will have to decide for yourself how you feel about this.
- The legal contract also appears to give Mr. Yukhnytsya the legal right to display or sell a painting without acknowledging the artist. It only gives the artist the right to assert that they painted it. These two are very different and if this is correct we cannot see how this promotes the artist at all. Château des Réaux have not replied to clarify this point either.
If you are an artist who has submitted a painting to Château des Réaux we want to hear from you. Whether your feedback is positive or negative please contact us by email by clicking here. If you have not submitted work then you can leave your comments at the bottom of this post. We still hope to clarify the situation but unless Château des Réaux are prepared to provide more information this will not be possible.
Our recommendation based on what little we know is that any artist submitting a painting should be very clear about the contract they are entering into and be very aware that they are trusting a man who does not seem to be mentioned on the Internet other than in what has been written by his own staff at Château des Réaux. Will the competition awards really take place? Anyone’s guess right now. What do you think?