Ace Museum: All in for the 1%!

Greetings, art world. We are the Unknown Artists.

We urge you to investigate the economic conditions of the art world.

Rebuild the Dream is planning an event on March 31, 2012 at Ace Museum in Los Angeles called “All in for the 99%” (allinforthe99percent.org).  This event is intended to unite art and activism to “create awareness, discussion, and enthusiasm for the issues that inspire the 99% movement.” But the Ace Museum does not represent the 99%!

Ace Museum’s Chief Executive Douglas Chrismas has had well over 55 legal disputes with artists and collectors for financial fraud including stealing artwork and refusing to pay artists.  A quick Google search will turn up countless examples. (Please see links to the right.)  Douglas Chrismas has lost lawsuits charging that he stole famous artworks, sold smuggled artwork while claiming it was ‘free and clear of claims’, failed to pay rent and taxes, failed to pay artists for artworks that he sold, and failed to deliver artworks to collectors.  He has used bankruptcies to avoid paying claims on at least 7 occasions.  One art collector had Chrismas arrested when his bankruptcy filing protected him from paying the money that he owed.  Chrismas is currently being sued in a class action lawsuit for “failing and refusing” to pay artists 5% royalties on secondary market sales.  Secondary market sales bring in millions of dollars of profit for dealers.  Refusing to pay artists 5% for the work they made is clearly exploitative, selfish and greedy.  Artists fought hard to win 5% resale royalty rights in California, but art dealers like Chrismas make this law useless.

Ace Museum’s board member Bruce Karatz was the CEO and Chairman of KB Homes from 1986 to 2006.  He was the 4th highest paid CEO in the US in 2006. But he resigned from KB Homes in 2006 because he was charged with 20 felonies related to executive stock options.  In 2010, Karatz was convicted of four felony charges for backdating executive stock options in order to make them more valuable without disclosing that information.  In this way, Bruce Karatz overstated his earnings and the earnings of KB Homes and then covered it up.

Ace Museum’s Chief Executive and some of it’s board members consistently break the law and rip people off to make money.  A simple Google search reveals a long list of offenses against artists and the 99%.  Many of the artists in the show have constructed a persona that is purportedly critical, but their involvement shows that they are either okay with this activity, or did not bother to do the simplest research.  If these artists want to pretend to be critical while being tools for the 1%, we are okay with that–just don’t do it under the banner of the 99%.  For the artists and others involved who actually do want to stand for the 99%, we urge you to withdraw in protest and find another location that stands with the 99%.  The 99% is not a marketing tool for you to promote yourselves or other people’s economic interests.

Make no mistake: Ace Museum represents the interests of the 1%! Rebuild the Dream should not work with the Ace Museum or it will help to whitewash it’s economic crimes.

We are the Unknown Artists.

We expose economic interests.

We increase transparency.

We aim for the distribution of wealth and information.

We will not be censored.

We will not be stopped.

FUCK AUTHORSHIP, FIX THE SYSTEM!

Please sign our petition asking Rebuild the Dream to relocate the show and stop helping Ace Museum whitewash its economic crimes: http://www.change.org/petitions/ace-museum-all-in-for-the-1

Please read the exchange between MoveOn and Unknown Artists by clicking on the comments for this post.

11 Comments

  1. Listen. It’s a space that was rented for an event. ACE is in no way a sponsor for this event, and sorry, but no one thought to research the owners of a rental space before holding the event there. It’s raw, its’ empty and we could afford it. I think you’re overreacting just a tad bit. And we’d blow months and months of work trying to create something positive just to appease YOU. That doesn’t sound or feel very 99%-y to me.

    • Hi Laura,

      Did you not get the invite from Facebook? We have changed our image at the top of the page to a screen shot of the Facebook event page. We don’t see you as one of the people who have responded as attending, so perhaps you didn’t get the invite to “Be Part of Aerial Human Art Image @ Ace Museum: “All in for the 99%” Show”. Here is a link so that you can attend: http://www.facebook.com/events/146749192114435/

  2. That’s not the invite for the event. That’s an invite made by a group that is organizing a an event at the start of the day. “All in for the 99%” actual invite is here:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/347549518618223/

    Bottom line: the space is being rented from Ace, but has no other involvement with them in any capacity.

    • Okay, so your story really is that you rented a space for an art event that just happens to also be a museum, and you didn’t realize that it was a museum until just now? Forgive me if I’m a little skeptical that you accidently found a museum for your art event and had no idea. Some members of Unknown Artists have donated to Move On and Rebuild the Dream and are now wondering if you couldn’t figure this out, how much of our money has gone to the Koch Brothers or Goldman Sachs simply because you couldn’t be bothered to look into it.

      First of all, the event at the Ace Museum was first brought to our attention from a mass email sent out from Rebuild the Dream. The email specifically invited us to “Ace Museum”. The text from that invite is below and we will place a screen shot of it as well. Also, if you put the address into Google the first result is “Ace Museum”. And, unless you found a different way to contact the building owner, to rent out the space, you needed to contact “Ace Gallery”. And finally, on the front of the building is “ACE MUSEUM” painted in 9 ft by 50 ft letters.

      Do you mind if we ask you a couple of questions?

      First, did you actually rent the building or was it donated? Ace Museum has already had art shows in the space establishing it as a museum. If you are paying for the space, you should demand at least a refund- but realistically, you should actually be getting paid. You are presenting a show with many blue-chip artists- this is something museums generally pay curators to do for them. By advertising and bringing people to the space, you are promoting the space not only as a place that shows top-notch art, but also a place that stands with the 99%. Not only did you do their work for them, you paid them to do it!

      Also, some of the artists in the show are represented or have exhibited in Ace Gallery. In case you aren’t aware of how prices are set in the art world, when artists are included in shows in museums or with other big name artists, the price of the artist’s work goes up. This show will help Ace Gallery to charge more for those artist’s work. Collectors and art dealers will often go through all sorts of underhanded schemes to place artists work in museums and high profile shows such as this event. Even if the work in the show is not sold, being included in this kind of show consecrates and gives publicity to the artist, which ideally creates a market for that artist’s work so that dealers and investors in art can make money and inflate the value of their collections. Artists usually don’t receive a dime of the profit made on the resale of their work, and Douglas Chrismas, the owner of the building, has been sued numerous times for violating this very law.

      The second question is, now that you know who owns this place and what they are doing, would you be willing to stand with us in protest against Ace Museum?

      Perhaps, if you are unwilling to move the event, we can find a way to use the event as a way to shed light on some of the offenses committed by the owners of the space? If Rebuild the Dream would be willing to display a large info graphic at the event, provided by Unknown Artists, that exposes the owners of the building, as well as to send out a mass email officially condemning Ace Museum for their economic offenses, we would like to issue a video praising you for standing with artists and publically give you our support for standing up for the rights of artists who are routinely ripped off by Ace Gallery. We have many links on top of this site with mountains of information on Douglas Chrismas and Bruce Karatz. Please read them, do your research (better late than never) and consider joining us condemning these offenses against artists. We have respect for some of the things you have done in the past, and really want to believe that you are on our side.

      Even if you were unaware, or do not intend it, every person who attends this show is going to associate this museum with the 99% (the building is emblazoned with ACE MUSEUM in 9ft letters, it is being advertised as a show at Ace Museum, ect). You know about this now. Are you going to allow this museum to use the 99% banner to whitewash its crimes?

      Respectfully,
      Unknown Artists

      Rebuild the dream email:

      Dear **********,
      There’s going to be a huge event in LA, and we need YOU!

      On March 31, art and activism will unite at All in for the 99% to create awareness, discussion, and enthusiasm for the issues that inspire the 99% movement. It’s an all-day event that calls for unity and cooperation in the progressive community, featuring artists, musicians, and progressive leaders including renowned activist and Rebuild the Dream co-founder Van Jones, LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

      Your help is crucial on Thursday, March 29 through Sunday, April 1 at ACE Museum in Mid City! Below are the times and types of help we need–if you have the time and the skills, please email the event producers at allinforthe99@gmail.com.”

  3. Dude, that’s just the address of the event. From what I can see, Ace has no involvement in this show/project, and I don’t criticize the participating artists for not researching all the board members who own the venue (though I do appreciate your doing so and calling out some bad 1%ers). Still, I wouldn’t boycott this event or demand a venue change. The participants of this show are good people and should not be thrown under the bus. I think we need more unity than that. Curious to know though, how big is the Ace Museum Board of Directors, and what are the political affiliations of the other Board Members? Are some of them progressive supporters?

    • We’re not sure what you mean that it is only an address. If you go to that address, you will find a building with enormous letters that says, “ACE MUSEUM” on the front of the building along with a giant silver sculpture of Vladimir Lenin’s head with Mao’s wife on top by the Gao Brothers. Have you actually gone to this address? Would you say that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC is just an address, and not the White House? Are you trying to say that it doesn’t matter if Rebuild the Dream is using this space?

      If you are trying to say that it is no big deal to show in that space, let us explain why this is so important to us. Rebuild the Dream is presenting an event with top notch artists that will bring a huge crowd to Ace Museum. These people will have no doubt of where they are (because of the giant lettering and promotions saying the event is at Ace Museum), and unless they have been reading this blog, they will not understand that the space is only being rented and will more than likely assume that Ace Museum stands with the 99%. The museum also has other shows up right now that are going to benefit a great deal from the increased traffic and publicity.

      Yet, this museum is being run by people who routinely rip off artists, have been convicted of felonies, and are currently being sued by artists. As people who identify with the 99%, we are appalled that Rebuild the Dream would allow this place to be identified with the 99%.

      Moreover, this was initially brought to our attention by a mass email from Rebuild the Dream that did not give any address, but said, “at Ace Museum in Mid-City”. At the top of this blog there is a screen shot from that email- we circled Ace Museum so you don’t even have to read the whole thing. If you receive emails from Rebuild the Dream, you probably have your own copy in your emails. Search for Ace Museum and see if you find it. There is also a Facebook page for this event that says, “Ace Museum” in the profile picture. It used to be titled, and prominently said, “Be Part of the Ariel Human Art Image @ Ace Museum: “All in for the 99%” Show”. After this was pointed out in a response to Laura, the main text to the Facebook page was changed, but not the text on the profile picture. We have posted a screen shot of the original Facebook page on this blog beneath our profile picture. Please click on it to enlarge it. The most recent email from Rebuild the Dream did not mention Ace Museum by name. It seems apparent that after this was brought to their attention, they decided to not address the issue, but instead cover it up and claim that it is just a building.

      As for your question of if there are any progressive members on the board, both Douglas Chrismas and Bruce Karatz are big supporters of the Democratic Party, if you consider that to be progressive. We found relatively little information about the political interests of the other board members. The other board members include:

      Scott Schaefer- board chair & Senior curator of painting at the Getty
      Jennifer Kellen- Director of Ace Gallery
      Fredrick Nicholas- Previous chair of Disney Concert Hall committee & a lawyer specializing in real estate development & known as “Mr. Downtown Culture”
      Andrea Nasher- Nasher Sculpture Center
      Matt Toledo- Publisher & CEO of the Los Angeles Business Journal

      We don’t want to speak for them, but on paper, they don’t appear to be part of the 99%. But, we would encourage you to research them or contact them in person to find out. Please share anything you find with us.

      We are not saying that the artists are bad people, nor do we intend to throw them under the bus. We are only asking that they do not support, or even appear to support this egregious institution. What we are asking is that they take some responsibility for how their artwork is used. We are asking the same of Rebuild the Dream. We have offered a solution in which Unknown Artists would give our support for the event if Rebuild the Dream publically denounces the Ace Museum and allows us to provide an infographic of some sort at the show explaining how Move On and Rebuild the Dream do not support this institution and expose their many crimes against artists.

      We also think Rebuild the Dream is being taken advantage of by Ace Museum. If they are actually renting the space- they are essentially paying a museum to show works of blue chip artists (something they should be doing anyway). Some of the artists in the show are even represented by Ace Gallery, the gallery owned by Douglas Chrismas… so Rebuild the Dream is paying to promote Chrismas’ artists.
      We would like to support this show and Rebuild the Dream. We really hope they decide to distance themselves from this institution by doing more than removing their association with them from the internet. They are going to give this museum (or address if you prefer) a huge amount of publicity in the name of the 99%. We feel this is a huge mistake and resent having the banner of 99% being used in this way.

      Sincerely,
      Unknown Artists

  4. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is being rented out for events? I’d petition to move this there!

    Again, Ace Museum has nothing to do with the event besides being the physical location. Any other suggestion is completely false.

    • It is clear that Russell Simmons knows Douglas Chrismas, his wife premiered her clothing line at Ace Gallery NY, Kanye West premiered an album at Ace Gallery in LA… there are numerous photographs of Russell Simmons at exclusive events at Ace Gallery on the web. But you are still going to maintain that nobody who organized this event knew that this building with the words “Ace Museum” in huge letters on the front was Ace Museum? You just happened to rent a building that is owned by a man who knows one of your organizers, but nobody realized this?

      We hear what you are saying, and can appreciate where you are coming from- but do you really believe that if people go to a museum to see art, they are going to assume that the work has nothing to do with the museum?

      Would you be willing to do something to make it abundantly clear to the people who are walking into the museum that your organization has nothing to do with the place? All we want is for people to know that your event representing the 99% is in no uncertain terms NOT affiliated with this place. It sounds like this is also what you want, is there something we can do to make sure this happens? We would like to work with you toward economic justice in the art world.

  5. Dear Unknown Artist,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We did not do a background check on the owner of the building we are renting for this event. We will install a sign near the entrance of the space stating our total independence from the ACE.

    Beyond renting the space at 400 S. La Brea that is known as the Ace Museum, we want to stress that Ace Gallery, Ace Museum, and Doug Chrismas or his partners do not, and have never, had any involvement or association with “All in for the 99%” They have had zero input on the show, from the theme, to the artists that are included. While no “official/approved marketing” materials have gone out listing Ace Museum as a partner, some materials may have listed the Ace Museum as part of the address, but this was a misprint, and is in no way an endorsement of Ace Museum, or Ace Museum’s endorsement of All in for the 99% or its partners or participating artist.

    The artists–and 100’s of other 99%er’s–have devoted their hearts and souls to build unity and make a difference. There are over 100 artists showing work, over 25 different grassroots organizations, independent producers and partners.

    While it would be impossible for us to move this event, we take your concern seriously and we believe it imperative we separate those who occupy the land from the landowners. With this in mind, I invite you to come to the space on Saturday and check out the show. Again, thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Your sincerely,

    Apple Via
    Producer -All in for the 99%

    • Hi Apple Via,

      Thank you so much- this is the kind of response we have been hoping for from someone involved. We had always assumed that if the sponsors of the event knew who was behind this organization, they would not approve as they represent the antithesis of the spirit and purpose of the event.

      We would like to offer your organization our gratitude and respect for your efforts and taking the time to listen to our cause.

      Sincerely,

      Unknown Artists

      • I also want to personally thank you for bringing this to our attention. We honestly had no idea that there was any bad blood between the owners of this space and the rights of artists. We’ll do proper research next time. Honestly, our thoughts were, “it’s big, it’s raw, it’s in a good central location, and we can just barely afford it”. I’m happy we’re putting the disclaimer up and we now know to make this kind of research a priority in our next event.

        Sincerely,
        Laura Dawn, MoveOn.org


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.