Beware of “Israeli” door-to-door art scams!

March 2nd, 2009

If you recently bought art from a charismatic art student selling his wares door-to-door, chances are you have been duped into buying a worthless piece that is mass produced in China.

A handsome young man with a French accent recently paid my parents a visit in Western Sydney, claiming to be an Israeli art student from the University of Jerusalem. He was carrying a portfolio which he said contained the work of he and his fellow students. Despite the work being unremarkable, my parents – always eager to support the arts – were willing to part with $120.00 for an oil painting depicting two boats docked against a wooden pier.

“These sell in galleries for $1,500” he said cheerfully. While this shyster was still in my parents’ living room, I was summoned to offer my opinion of the work.

The ‘art student’ presented me with some of the pieces in his portfolio – a tree, some generic abstracts, a scene of the Eiffel Tower. Each of the artworks had an associated back story – the tree was apparently a ‘burning bush’, representing the first time God communicated with Moses. The oil painting of the two boats symbolised the hope of peace between Israel and Palestine. They were just boats. I immediately recalled a story a colleague had shared only weeks earlier, who knew someone who fell for a similar scam. In his case, the ‘art student’ was a French man named Pierre, and the victim only discovered afterwards that the art was mass produced in Chinese sweatshops for $3 apiece.

“I don’t like any of them.” I said, before retreating. I quickly Googled ‘Israeli art scam’ and was presented with plenty of accounts of similar stories. Luckily I was able to tell my mother in time – so she wrote out a cheque instead of paying cash. As soon as this trickster left, she contacted the bank and cancelled the cheque.

These people are conducting fraudulent business – they sell cheap Chinese rip-offs to people who believe they are supporting art students. Anyone is at risk of falling prey to these swindlers, including the elderly and the vulnerable.

It’s time to close the door on these art scams!

Related Links

Israeli art student scam in Melbourne?
Chinese Oil Paintings for Wholesale
– the origin of the paintings

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  1. Sal says:

    They have been scouting the Inner West in the last few weeks. We were visited last week by a lovely Enlgishman claiming to be selling the paintings of his fellow artists for them. He claimed it was a 2 weeks project whereby artists got together to paint pieces for sale. He called at the very inconvenient time of 5pm for us but we were looking for some art to hang on the walls so we took a look and decided on 3 pieces. He charged us $300 + for hte paintings but we didn’t have casj luckily so paid him a cash cheque which after a web search we promptly cancelled and we are yet to hear from the “framer” that was supposed tp call us on Sunday. We like the pieces so will hang them up as planned.
    I don’t have anything against these guys per se as people are free to sell their wares door to door if they eish. It is the misrepresentation that I object to. Luckily we didn’t pay them cash and even if we had it wasn’t huge amounts of cash we parted with but I do feel for those who lost money and were taken for fools. It has taught me a lesson and I will be extremely wary of anything sold door to door in the future.
    I assume the Inner West of Sydney will be off the radar for a while but be aware, I’m sure they’ll be back.

  2. well craig thats a very good question. when i present the paintings i never say that i made them my self, or that i know who made them as a matter of fact i try to be as honest as possible. but like anything that you want to sell. you need to make it sounds better and more beautifull. especially when trying to sell door to door.
    but in the end of the day what is important is that you get a REAL oil painting and not a print like some suspect you can check it by yourself. and it’s something you like and it fit to your house and you paid a good price for it .
    so you have nothing to feel bad about because you did made a good deal.
    Its only a matter of perspective.

  3. Well craig thats a very good question.
    Oil painting is a product that we are trying to sell and like anything for sale you need to market your product and present it in an attractive way.
    the paintings are REAL oil paintings and not a print like some suspect you can just check this for yourself.
    The bottum line is: you paid a good price for a good product that you loved and looks good in your house, you made a good deal.
    and you shouldnt feel bad about it take it in the right perspective.

  4. Peter says:

    @ oil painting saleswoman:
    The issue isn’t the paintings being sold using lies, or sold for 1000% more than its really worth.
    There is one thing you should know about Australians. We are tough and rough, but we are also honest, giving and respect each other as best we can. When we have a person that lies to us about the origin of a sentimental product such as a painting, it really is sad to us and we feel sorry for you. We feel for you poor salespeople because we know that your boss put you up to this and made it seem easy to earn a quick buck. Your boss is riding and counting on the good nature of the people of Australia and the reason why you are getting sales is because we know you guys are doing it for cash, whether it’s a lie or not. We feel sorry for you to tell you the truth and some are angry at you for not being smarter!

    Loss of money means nothing to most of us in Australia, we are tough as rocks, but to Israeli’s I guess money is more important than their own dignity and respect to other people. It’s very very disappointing because most of you art salespeople are young, beautiful and intelligent people that could do better rather than defacing yourselves and the people of your country.

    If you told the truth on my doorstep and said that these paintings are chinese hand painted works and I’m a tourist or student which is raising money for a trip in Australia, I would definitely buy your artwork. You would find that people would be willing to do the same also.

    Therefore it’s not about the product you guys sell, it’s about YOU GUYS! We hate seeing nice young people being used for some stupid money making scheme that your boss set up. I bet inside, it makes you feel terrible, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many good people here in Australia, your lies will get the better of you in the end.

    I hope those that are employed by these greedy heartless bosses stand up against them. Australian’s are not “Goyim” because they are caring and giving! Australians are not stupid, dumb or gullible! Most of us would break an arm to just to save you from death.

  5. keith says:


    There is a site I found that tracks door to door scamming – see

    worth checking and help keeping up to date.

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