just be careful

Apr 21st, 2015, 07:01 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2015
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just be careful

My husband and I went to Cuba last year, on a people to people tour. It was perfect in almost every way. Our one significant disappointment came when we bought a sculpture from an art gallery just outside of Havana, called La Lavenderia from the artist Rafael Perez Alonso.The total price we were quoted included shipping [the artist would soon be going to Miami, and would ship the piece to us from there]. We paid half the total cost in the studio in Cuba, and were to pay the other half upon shipping.
Once Rafael was in Miami, his agent there called and asked us to send the remainder so the sculpture could be shipped. We did, and eagerly awaited our piece.
When it arrived, it was broken. We saw that the package wasn't even insured. It took us close to 6 months to talk with Rafael, who told us that he didn't pack the sculpture himself, and that he wasn't responsible for the damage. He offered to send us another sculpture, but in resin [the one we bought was bronze], and though at one point he offered to refund the money, he eventually stopped communicating.
There is so much beautiful art in Cuba - just don't buy anything from this artist or this studio, and perhaps be a little more careful than we were.
dplemmons is offline  
Apr 21st, 2015, 07:24 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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dplemmons, Wow, what a terrible thing to have happened. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I know many artists in Cuba (some are dear friends) and have bought a lot of Cuban art (never from La Lavenderia). I haven't ever had even the smallest issue, but I would be absolutely furious if I were you.

Just FYI, Havana Biennale is next month starting on May 22. If I were you, I would contact the gallery and Rafael suggesting that they return your money for the sculpture ASAP so as not to incur bad publicity relative to Americans going to buy art. You can say that a friend (we're friends, right?) is going to Biennale (which is true--I leave on May 21) and has said she will steer clear of both their gallery and Mr. Alsonso. (which is also true after your story)

I love Cubans. I go to Havana all the time and have countless friends. However, Cubans have no CLUE about customer service. Nada. They have lived in a communist society their entire lives and "customer service" is not a hallmark of the Castro regime--even among the "elite" artist community. That will change with Americans coming in--Americans expect service.

Anyway, leverage Biannale to your benefit and get all over them ASAP. It will make them nervous when this is their only art festival every three years** You have a short window. USE IT. I bet you get your money back.


**it is pure Cuban to have a "biannual" every three years : )
BostonHarbor is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 10:10 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,303


Maybe you could post a trip report, to tell us about the rest of your trip. That would be so helpful as many people are now thinking about Cuba.

Instead of focusing only on this one negative experience?
suze is offline  
May 5th, 2015, 11:23 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 288
Not only do the Cubans supposedly know little about "customer service," they, at this time, are not that saavy in the area of marketing, either. Those are not my words, they were the words of a professor who given my small, intimate group of 14 on a P-t-P tour in March of this year.

On a Wednesday evening, we'd gone to the "firing of the canon" ceremony at that spectacular fortress near the water. While we walked to the place of the firing, a lot of private vendors surrounded the huge foot path with their wares. Almost all of the vendors had similar offerings of sorts. So what the esteemed professor relayed reigned true.

But in keeping with this thread, I, too, wish you the best in the artist making "it right for you!"
Eddwarm is offline  
May 5th, 2015, 11:27 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 288
I'd wanted to go to The Biennale but am unable to this year, so I am highly anticipating and hoping to return to Cuba in December to be part of its 31st International Jazz Festival. ...art, dance, music, sport,.... What else can continue to uplift a repressed people?
Eddwarm is offline  
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