I bought a piece of art on eBay and now something's wrong with it! What the heck do I do?

I’m mostly a lurker here, but now finally have an issue with which I could use the help of your varied expertise(s)! Here’s hoping one, or a few, of the teeming millions can help!

I bought a piece of metal art off eBay appx 6 months ago which has now turned to be defective. It’s a 3-part wall hanging that has aluminum backing, then was painted decoratively and finished with a clearcoat (the same kind of clearcoat that is used for cars). Here’s a link. And yes, that’s “thee” artist’s website.

Now, this piece of art has done nothing but hang about 12 feet high on the interior wall above the door to my back patio (what, it’s a big wall!). About a month ago, I noticed that the clearcoat on 2 pieces of the art has started peeling from the backing, making two big bubble spots on the pieces (about 1/3 of each of the pieces). Upon contacting the artist to see what the issue might be, I was given a stern (rude) response stating that I must have used some sort of solvent to clean it (?!). Obviously, since that would be one heckuva silly thing to do, I hadn’t done that, and so stated this to the artist. I offered to ship the piece back at my own cost to see if the artist could either fix it or replace it. The artist said that no, he doesn’t know what I’ve done with the piece to create this problem, but nothing like this has ever happened before, and that was that.

Now, I paid about $600 for this piece, which is a freakin lot of money! So I asked the artist again if he would kindly just look it over and see if there was anything that could be done. Again, I’d ship it back at my own cost. The guy again refused, and told me I should go buy a pair of underwear and try to return it 6 months later and see what happens. :rolleyes:

I come to you to ask if there’s any sort of legal recourse that I might have? Any kind of artist’s forum of any sort where this guy could be reported? Any other creative (legal) ways we can think of to stick it to this guy? Or am I just screwed? Seriously??

I think unless you got some kind of warranty at the time of purchase you’re SOL on this. And even then you’re at the mercy of the seller who has already said no. After six months it really is a he-said-she-said kind of dispute. Maybe you can find another resource to fix the item for you.

Sounds like the artist may have used a water based clear coat over an oil based paint.
Six months after the fact is too late to do anything on eBay, though you might want to see if you can still post a follow-up comment to the feedback you left for the seller.
If you used a credit card contact your credit card company to see if they provide a warranty on the purchase–many cards warranty a purchase for a year.
Good luck!

If you’re willing to outlay the cost for shipping, you may want to use that money instead to have an art studio near you look at it.

By the way, how do I go about returning this underwear I bought on eBay which has proven not as durable as expected?

Yeah, that’s what I would do. Get an expert to check it out and provide their opinion on letterhead. Also get them to provide an opinion on what can be done to fix it, and how much it’s likely to cost.

Contact the artist, send him copies of the expert opinions, and then ask him what he is willing to do. To him, you’re just a schmuck, but he may sit up and take notice if someone in the know is telling him that there is a problem.

I assume that you are not in the same state, but if you are it’s easier. See if there is a small claims court you can sue in and see if they will allow a non-traditional type of hearing, where you can telephone in your testimony or file an Affidavit instead of having to be there in person, unless you actually have a reason to be in the same locale.

However, you are going to have to balance off the costs of what it will cost against what you paid for the art. It may not be worth it. And don’t get caught up in “the principle of the thing” – this may well exist, but how much are you willing to pay just to be “right”?

It may well be easier to write out your story of the situation along with naming the artist and posting your account online in as many places as you can just to warn people how unreasonable he is to deal with if anything goes wrong.

First question - did you buy it directly from the artist? Because if you bought it from a third party there’s no telling what that party did or didn’t do to it and you are SOL.

Second - no, there’s nowhere to “report” the artist. What, exactly, do you think the artist did wrong? You bought something. Now it’s falling apart. Tell me, if you bought a book, six months later the pages are falling out, and you bring it back to the bookstore do you think you’ll get a refund? If you bought a new car and six months later the paint starts to peel off do you really think you’ll get the dealer to fix it?

Unless this happens to ALL of this guy’s artwork you don’t really have much to go on. And no, I don’t advise spamming the internet with this guy because, as I said, unless this happens to ALL his artwork you haven’t got a leg to stand on. I’m only hearing your side, not the artist’s, but if this is really the only time this has happened to a piece he made then it’s just bad luck.

Here is what I would suggest - contact an art museum, preferably one with metal art in its collection. A museum of contemporary art would be good, as they would also be familiar with modern materials. Ask to speak with someone who works in art conservation, preservation, and restoration. THAT"s the guy (or gal) who will know how to fix your problem. See what that person says in regards to fixing the problem, or at least halting it.

Because the truth is that when something like this happens the artist may not, in fact, know how to fix it. Artists create art, they don’t necessarily know how to fix art. That’s what art restorers know how to do.

Finally - anything on eBay is “buyer beware”. Remember that.

This cannot possibly be true.

You’d have to prove the dealer is at fault. Good luck with that. They’ll just point out that no one else has complained about peeling paint and you must have done something wrong.

Unless the majority of people who bought from that dealer have cars with paint that peels within six months you’re going to get squat.

Artists create art and are probably not all that interested in it’s structural integrity.
They don’t need to be since art is pretty much sold “as-is”.
It would be in the interest of a serious artist to stand behind their work if they want any longevity to their careers since you don’t want the word on the street to be “Don’t buy anything from him it’ll fall apart in 4 months” but if they are out to make a buck ‘now’ they couldn’t care less how long it lasts.

It seems to me that the question is one of whether the artwork in question was produced using inferior materials or method, to wit, a manufacturing defect.

Caveat emptor aside, if the artist wants to make a name for himself and becomes known as someone who produces artwork that falls apart, he won’t get many buyers.

This is why it is important to find out from an expert what the problem is. If he decides that the clearcoat was the wrong kind, or that it was applied wrongly, then it’s a manufacturing defect, and one that it would be in the artist’s best interests to correct, both in regard to art already produced and to take note of in regard to future creations.

If, however, the expert’s opinion is that LoganDear shouldn’t have hung the piece in direct sunlight, or a room with heavy humidity, etc., than he will have to live with this, although there should have been instructions about where to hang it if the artist knew (or ought to have known) that it should only have been hung in certain areas or under certain conditions.

However, this is all only true if it was bought from the artist, because the artist can’t be held responsible for what subsequent owners did or did not do – there is no duty of care owed to a secondary or later owner.

Maybe, but doubtful. If the manufacturer alerted the bookstores that there was an improper amount of glue used by the sub-contractor and all of their product was falling apart, there may well be a refund program in effect. If it’s just a one-off situation, likely not, but then again, it’s no big deal because a book usually doesn’t cost a lot.

Damn right I do. This is usually covered under warranty, anyway, unless it can be proven that you did something wrong to nullify the warranty.

Hey, if the guy is an asshole (and judging from his replies, he may well be an asshole), who won’t guarantee the satisfaction of his customer (and that is only if LoganDear bought the piece directly from him), there’s nothing wrong with letting others know about it.

Exactly what I was getting at – always get the opinion of an expert. It’s amazing how easily it will change the way someone views the situation.

[nitpick]A new car would be covered under the car maker’s warranty. [/nitpick]
Speaking as a car dealer service manager, the owner could run into a wall with their new car and they would want me to fix it on my dime.

Just wanted to point out that even though the purchase was only 6 months ago, the piece might be much older. The prior owner might have stored or displayed it improperly.

Yeah, I think we need more information about the actual purchase to decide whether anything can really be done.

Try the Fine Arts Forgery Department (Frasier YouTube link)

Was the title of the work “Planned Obsolescence?”

Did the seller make any express warranties as to the durability of the piece? Do you believe any specific warranties were implied? If not, I think you are SOL.

Moreover, tho the OP considers $600 to be a freakin lot of money, it is a fraction of the time, effort and expense that would be involved in what I consider a fruitless attempt to obtain restitution.

Try to trash the guy’s rep, and you might leave yourself open for a claim of tortious commercial interference or somesuch.

Consider it a $600 lesson to be wary of buying art off the internet.

I have a couple of thoughts here - they are IMHO; however, I am an art collector so I have a bit of experience.


could be an issue. Depending on your climate and the weather proofness of your door, the piece could be getting exposed to moisture which (in theory) could cause the type of damage you’re talking about. Were that the case, this would be 100% your fault.

I commissioned a painting from a local artist and (stupidly) hung it over a fish tank - guess what - the moisture bubbled the paint. Now, the artist in question was happy to repair it for me; however, he and I have an ongoing relationship - I’ve commissioned MANY pieces from him and he knows if I’m happy I will continue to do so.

In your situation, you don’t have that luxury. Firstly, the artist is in a differnt state (I assume) - he doesn’t know you from a hole in the wall.

Secondly, looking at the piece in question, $600 would barely cover materials, let alone compensating the artist for his time creating it. Now, I assume he set the price, but it you won it in an E-Bay auction (as opposed to Buy it Now) $600 could be much less than he was hoping to get for it. That’s his problem; however, if that’s the case I can understand why he has no interest in helping you now - he already feels like you got his art for miuch less than it was worth (maybe).

I think taking the piece to a local art restorer and having them determine if it can be repaired is your best course of action. Further, I would give the artist a break as you likely can’t prove that it was poor workmanship versus moisture damage from improper placement that caused the damage.

I didn’t look too carefully, but I thought just about all his work was listed for $289?

DAMN RIGHT! 5 mph bumper my ASS!

:smiley: kdding!