Richard Van
Aug 4 · 7 min read

Thank you Matt O’Neil for your great article. Besides shaming an autistic child on social media, Shane Townley has scammed so many artists over the years. Beware of NewYorkArt.com, LagunaArt.com and Shane Townley for charging from $250 to $7,000 for exhibiting at his vanity galleries.

I want to warn artists and the public to stay away from newyorkart.com, lagunaart.com and Gallery 104. These websites and galleries are owned by Shane Townley who owns art venues in Laguna Beach and New York. Shane has opened and closed around 5 galleries in Laguna Beach, and San Clemente, CA charging artists between $450 and $600 a month to display their art and many of them do not sell in his venues and when the art gets damaged, Shane does not take responsibility for the damage. My art got damaged at two of his previous galleries and he never paid me for the damage. I only stayed a few months in his gallery. The other artists decided to stay the whole year and they did not sell. I decided to stay away from Shane. Pam Squires, Shane’s past director of sales and marketing was trying to sell me a $50 monthly online subscription to display my art in an online gallery. That website had around 300 artists at that time which comes to $600 a year per artist making a lot of money for 300 artists. Another artist told me that Shane asked her to bring flyers to a Beverly Hills art fair persuading artists to join Shane’s online website and she told me that this site was pretty much a scam. Over the years, I have heard stories from other artists complaining about Shane’s scams. Shane Townley has a very bad reputation in Laguna Beach. When I found out that he was opening a gallery in New York, I was sure that he was going to start scamming artists the same way that he has done in Laguna or San Clemente for years. I personally know of an artist that he met at a New York Fine Art Fair inviting her to exhibit at his Laguna gallery for a $6,000 upfront fee with the promise of displaying her art and representing her for one year. Since she lived in another state, she could not check if her art was being displayed. This artist had some friends that checked on the gallery over the year and according to her friends, her art was not being displayed. She never sold through this gallery. Her art was stored in the backroom. When I went to see her work in that gallery, I only saw a tiny painting of hers displayed in a very poor visible area. She brought to that gallery several paintings and they were not displayed. She basically gave Shane a $6,000 check for nothing. Another bad story, on 2007, Shane approached artists displaying at Art Walk San Diego charging them $300 for the weekend to participate at a Dana Point Art Festival. My friend only paid for one weekend, but several artists paid for four weekends. Nobody showed up at that fair since it was placed at the parking lot of a furniture/gift store. After the first weekend, Shane sent emails to the participating artists claiming that the fair was a great success with sales and foot traffic. Many artists just canceled the fair’s fees through their credit cards. My friend paid with a check, so this was a total scam and a waste of time and money. I was also blown away when I saw online a video taken by Shane on February 2018 in which he shamed on social media an autistic boy for crying non-stop on a flight from Germany to New Jersey. The video went viral and created several articles defending the child and mother. You can read two of them on “Controversial clip of tantrum on eight hour flight goes viral” and “Artist Shane Townley adds to stigma in children’s mental health”.

On July 9, 2019, I received the following email with the title: “Im interested in your artwork” from Dafina Assouline and two weeks later, on July 25, I got another email as part of the initial email from Dafina but written by Tahirah Cochran. Both emails were not addressed to my name. What is so misleading and conning is that Dafina’s email says, “ I saw your work on instagram”. “I do not charge any fees, only a percentage when we sell your work”. I was very interested in talking to Dafina. I called her back and she never responded. I called Tahirah, she told me that since my art was already chosen by Dafina, that I did not have to pay for the curator’s process but that in order to be able to exhibit at their gallery, that I had to pay $250 to display 3 of my images on their website and then choose different plans ranging from $250 to $7,000 to display my art. At this point, I suspected that it was related to Shane Townley since he announced that he was starting a gallery in New York. I told Tahira that I wanted to contact Dafina but she told me that she was an independent curator and that she was no longer able to help me. Tahirah Cochran confirmed that the gallery owner is Shane Townley. I found a posting on Facebook from Dafina Assouline in response to the mass email sent with her name to many artists and saw that she never sent that email. She never saw my art on Instagram. This is Dafina’s facebook message:

ARTISTS!

If you received ANY email from “ME” Dafna Assouline (previous email address dafna@newyorkart.com ) beware that it is a phishing expedition Shane Townley the owner of NYA, Laguna art and gallery 104, who wrote and signed in my name in order to generate business for himself . I did not see your work, nor did I attempt to contact you nor did I refer your work to other curators. I apologize for any troubles this may have caused but I have nothing to do with this hack!

Here is the July 9, 2019 email sent by Dafina Assouline:

Hello,

My name is Dafna Assouline and I’m a New York Curator. I found your work on instagram and I think its very special and amazing. Im looking for a select few artists to represent. Let me know if you want to possibly work together in New York as I can help get you into galleries, art fairs and receptions to ultimately get your work into the hands of collectors. I would also like to help enhance your bio and CV.

I do not charge any fees, only a percentage when we sell your work.Wanna chat this week?

Dafna Assouline, New York Curator

cell. (xxx) xxx-xxxx

dafna@newyorkart.com

office: 7 Franklin Place, New York, NY 10013

Here is the July 25, 2019 email sent by Tahirah Cochran:

Hello, I wanted to reach out to inform you that the curator Dafna is all filled up with her artist roster now because she is an independent curator. However she forwarded me your contact info because she believes you have exceptional work. So Congratulations for being referred by a successful curator and for all the continued success you are about to embark on!

I am a curator from NewYorkART•com Art Center and Website and iPhone APP — which is #1 on Google for “New York Art” — Did you know NewYorkART•com has an iPhone app that is downloaded regularly by visitors to New York looking for the arts? We are also #1 in the iPhone App Store under “New York Art”. Art sales are happening though our website and iPhone app daily!

PHYSICAL GALLERY:

After becoming a member of NewYorkART•com you will be invited for solo exhibitions or group shows in our physical art center in Manhattan. We are open on the 1st Thursday of every month from 6–9pm and daily for tours 12–5pm.

We are set up like an art fair every month with a wine tasting reception where you as an artist can show and display and meet hundreds if not thousands of collectors, curators, lover of the arts.

If you want to show in our physical 9000 sq ft. 3 level space in Manhattan It’s simple to become a member of NewYorkART•com.

FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS TO JOIN:

#1 Go through the jury process (** You have already been recommended by Dafna) — so skip this step

#2 Click here to join with a small one-time web developer fee of $250 (no monthly fees) > https://newyorkart.com/products/a-newyorkart-com-one-time-artist-benefits-uploader-fee-250-st

#3 After joining NewYorkART•com you will receive an email from the uploading web developer. Have your 3 artwork images and bio ready for inclusion to NewYorkART•com

#4 After working with the uploader and your profile is approved by you then the uploader will send you the gallery director’s contact info for the physical space exhibition in Manhattan so you can schedule your physical show.

IMPORTANT: Please note if you want to show in the physical gallery space then all of your paintings must be uploaded to NewYorkART•com before your show, as all of the art sales made by selling your work go directly through the website as the buyer, collectors, interior designers purchase only through the online platform.

I am so excited to see you become a member in the way people are buying art now online as this is now a billion dollar industry and congratulations for seeing this amazing trend with art buyers so early in the game!

I hope to personally sell your work soon in the gallery during our art reception nights!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all.

Tahirah Cochran,Curator

NYA | newyorkart•com

7 Franklin Place, New York, NY 10013

ph. 917–472–9015 (Open Daily EST 12–5pm)

Instagram > @nyagallery

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