Many of you by now have seen the article in today’s Australian reporting on a vicious email hoax perpetrated against Samantha Pizzi and Beverly Knight. We were among the recipients of the bogus message, which attempted to discredit both dealers. The message was shocking on two counts: one that someone would be that vicious, and second that someone was stupid enough to think that anyone who has dealt with either gallery would believe accusations of fraud against one and implications that the other hoped to profit from the rumor.
Apart from the sheer irrationality of the message, the email itself bore all the telltale signs of a hoax. First, there was the long list of addresses, in alphabetical order, which looked exactly like the harvest of an address book. The fact that the addresses ranged alphabetically from C through H on the copy that we received was further proof for me. And if that weren’t enough, the return address was from yahoo.com.au. Anyone can sign up for a Yahoo account by simply picking an ID, and supplying a name and address. No proof of identity required. Such are the dangers of the internet these days. The stupidity asserts itself right there in the email address: it clearly wasn’t Beverly Knight’s.
All those signs would have tipped off even the casual reader. Somebody’s address book got stolen–maybe both dealers’, for all I know. But people who were on the list had surely received mail from the galleries before. And if you’re a client of either, you’d then know how absurd the allegations and the behavior looked.
I want to add just one personal anecdote to this story, and then I’ll shut up and let it die. In Paris this past June, we were at the reception sponsored by the Australian Embassy on the evening of the opening of the Musee du Quai Branly. The Embassy was displaying the Gabrielle Pizzi collection, and I think all the Australians in Paris were there. Certainly both Samantha and Bev were. At one point Harvey and I fell into conversation with Bev. We remarked how glad we were to see the collection, and how much we’ve enjoyed getting to know Samantha over the past year. Bev told us in return that she was delighted that Samantha was keeping on with the gallery, and wished her much success. She said that there were people who hoped that Samantha would close up shop, and thus cut down on competition, but in Bev’s opinion having a gallery of the caliber of Pizzi’s was essential to maintaining the integrity of the marketplace in Melbourne and beyond. The continuing existence of Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi was good for Alcaston Gallery. It’s ironic that the hoaxer’s final statement was “I want to assure you there are galleries that operate at the highest level of integrity,” because that’s almost exactly what Bev said to us, speaking not of herself, but of Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi and Samantha.