Debut Contemporary: CON ARTIST: Crimes Against Artists Humanity

There's  a man called Samir Ceric in a Gallery called Debut Contemporary on Westborne Grove that has
bullied, manipulated and lied to thousands of young, naive and inexperienced artists. Playing on the fact they are desperate to make it in the art world.
 Here’s some advice for free: 
There is no short cut to fame and glory. You get it by hard work and hard work only and if you are willing to work hard YOU WILL SUCCEED. You don’t need to pay over 400 pounds a month (for min 3 months contract) for a mentoring scheme from a man with no background in art whatsoever…

Astoundingly Samir Ceric had just been voted (AND WON) the Hospital Club’s 100 most influential people in the Art and Design category.

Now let me give you some background on the winner:
A serial and self-styled entrepreneur, with numerous failed/bankrupt business and absolutely no art qualifications at all. I was amazed he had been nominated let alone won such a prestigious award… considering his entire career has been built on fabrication.

Here's a few of my favourite CORKERS!
His C.V boasts him being the CEO of an international airline at 29.
It was called ‘Bosnia Air’, was registered to an address in central London and offered services. No planes, no flights. In essence it was just a glorified travel agent.

Another of his recent published ‘achievements’ was that he had just been elected for the board of the British Council. His website even went as far as to state his duties and responsibilities.

This wasn't a typo. 
This was a considered, fully conscious page and was ALL LIES.

After The British council were informed, the content was removed from Debut Contemporary’s website within a few hours and all links with the British Council were deleted.

It’s one thing to lie on your CV but these were ridiculous. 
  To go from a travel agent to CEO of a national airline in one swoop... And from holding one workshop with the British Council to being elected for the board isn’t just exaggerating- it’s lying at a monumental level. Jumbo jet size.

His website is full of quotes proclaiming him to be ‘‘One of the UK’s Most Powerful Couples in Art & Fashion’ (surely that was Charles Saatchi and Nigella?) and other ridiculous quotes that, upon research… don’t actually exist, are out of context or hugely exaggerated and are from magazines that also don't exist- such as The Times Magazines (a hybrid of TIME and The Times)

So after numerous failed and bankrupt businesses he decided the art world needs him, he rebrands and launches himself …with only a degree in maths to back him up.

.....And suddenly he is the most powerful and influential man in art and design. 

 Unfortunately due to lazy journalism and his incredible ability to completely silence critics, his self perpetuating myths have gone too far.

I couldn’t stand back. Now more than ever was the time to act. To bring some justice to the world. To restore the balance between good and evil. 
He was a crime to artist’s humanity!

The plan was simple. It was subtle. And the effect would be monumental- at least in my head it would anyway.
debut contemporary

7 of your finest undercover agents infiltrated the gallery, Debut Contemporary’s Christmas private view. It was perfect. He would be celebrating his most recent success… and he wouldn’t have a clue.
All of the infiltrators had CON ARTIST Tshirts under their jackets. Their mission was to follow Samir Ceric round, be his second shadow, get in every photo, every interview and as the cameras go off, subtly reveal the CON ARTIST logo. 
Samir Ceric debut contemporary
samir ceric art
Yeah baby, that's the spot
If done right he would be none the wiser...If they got caught they would be chucked out and if they got chucked out I wanted them to go kicking and screaming!
Everyone likes a bit of drama.
samir ceric start art
As you can see Samir was very obliging.  
While all this secret action was going on inside, I was left to patrol the smoking area outside.
samir ceric start art

Earlier in the day I had called the police, just to double triple check I was not doing anything wrong. I told them I would be protesting very peacefully, by myself and not causing any harm or nuisance or anything. He was very nice on the phone. Apparently it is my human right to spontaneously protest. I can do it anytime and anywhere according to the law. As long as I don’t use swear words or involve racism I was good to go. This was such great news.

Officially totally safe in the knowledge I was free to patrol the smoking area as I pleased waving my big fat sign all over the place. You really couldn't miss CON ARTIST in the window. 
HA HA! Look- you can't miss it. There it is- right above his bloody head! GENIUS 

debut contemporary complaints

Everyone inside could definitely see it all the time. I was surprised he didn’t tell me to move on- probably because he knew I knew my human rights.
It was also my human right to give out completely true and useful paraphernalia information about the ‘most influential man of all time’. It made great tube reading(you can read it at the bottom) 

I spoke to loads of artists, some that had work in the gallery and many that were thinking about joining up. I told them about poor Sarah Maple, and how I’d bought in a decomposing fox in a suitcase to my audition. How it ended so badly between us, how he refused to give my refundable deposit back and how, years later, after parting ways with this hellhole I was informed about their website and blown down by what I saw. They were using ALL my work and ALL my press, pilfered from the internet, creating an artist profile proclaiming that I was one of their success stories!
But it was true. It was fucking true. I was on every one of their networking sites promoting them and had been for over a year!!!I absolutely lost my mind. I was a mental case; the type that laughs to themselves and their eyes roll back and their arms wave about wildly. You can read about the whole adventure here:

Anyway back to the amazing protest story:
The icing on the cake was when he did his speech at the end. God knows what he said, I was outside, but he said it stood on a chair with his back to me. It was prime time for my sign.

Right there bang smack above his head (he’s not so tall)

I still had 2 CON ARTISTS left inside the gallery. Now was their time to strike!
One CON ARTIST had made it to the front.  She looked like your perfect curator/art dealer/general well to do art person…and when that jacket swung open, my heart sang.
He thought he’d foiled us all and then BANG- another one right in his face, looking him square in the eye. He said something and suddenly I heard voices coming from this brave woman! “HE’S A CON ARTIST! HE’S USING YOU! HE..” It was at this very moment the police turned up.

Yeah- Two proper decked out police man/woman and two undercovers!
For little old me and my one sign crappy sign and a few people wearing t-shirts. I didn’t realise this but someone from the CON ARTISTS had called the police themselves. We’d called the police on ourselves! To be fair it was a good move. It bought more drama and completely detracted to whatever he was talking about inside. No one could listen with the bloody police raving around. It also gave us some brilliant credibility as a few people asked if it was a real protest.
 This was very real. So real I felt it pulsating through me at every second and every moment. Every hyper second and then felt in the dimensions of pure justice. My life is worth living most of the time but THIS WAS THE ICING ON THE CAKE OF LIFE!

The police were very nice actually- but then again I am so very charming myself. They read my paraphernalia too…and by the end of it they wished they could join in but police must remain impartial. He said this man needs to be bought to trial for all the wrong. I told him unfortunately people were too scared to come forward. If we formed a collective he could be bought down but again, people don’t believe in themselves enough. People just give up and let unjusts create dust. NOT ME! Not me!
 No way.
 This grudge is FOR LIFE and I can’t wait for the next exciting instalment of the Debut Contemporary saga.
Eventually an uprising of trampled on artists will come forward. And we will restore justice. After all, consumers rights say if you’re not happy, you get your money back.

Just to note, I have nothing against any of the exhibitors, or anyone who works for the gallery. Interns don’t know their arse from their ear usually, it’s not their fault- but surly even interns have a moral compass?

If you have work there and you are selling it-great! My advice is: \
to sell it through.

If you can sell it there you can sell it anywhere. You don’t need him. He needs you. You’re the one making him money when you can clearly make it for yourself.
 In the art world, pay to plays are called ‘vanity galleries’ and they have 0% respect. It’s a small bowl and Samir is a notorious minnow with no clout anywhere. He is just a man with silly hair and a pretend voice (when I first met him 5 years ago him he had this strange cockney accent- now suddenly he talks like someone putting on a fake accent. He’s originally from Bosnia. I’m not sure how they speak but I’m pretty sure it’s not like that) 

He’s an empty vessel that has had no real success of his own- so instead he just makes it up and steals other people’s.

To live a life created with lies, to constantly make a living on others insecurities and dreams is a life without humanity. And this man is a crime against it.

It was an amazing feeling to finally stand up not just for myself (I was one of the lucky ones who did get their money back- I am pretty terrifying....) But for all those poor artists that have written to me over the years. Too afraid. Too hurt and too angry-
 This was for you guys
I would like to thank all the people involved. They were amazing and brave.
samir ceric START Art Fair

If you would like to become a con artist then email me J

Please spread the word.  Together we can restore tiny slices of justice to corners of the world and it feels F-A-N-F-U-C-K-I-N-T-A-S-T-I-C
Love from
Charlie Gates

PS: If you really can't get enough of this story, here's some of the paraphernalia information you can enjoy in the privacy of your own home:

Hi, my name’s Samir Ceric. You may know me from such accolades as “the most powerful art couple in Britain” (Times Magazines [I know this isn’t exactly a real publication, but it sounds like The Times Magazine and Time magazine combined, which lends it an air of authority.]) and more recently, one of the h100club’s Guardian sponsored Top 100 Most Influential People, in the category of art and design.
How did I get to be so very influential? A combination of lies, exaggerations, false quotations, bluster and downright front. I feel I’ve done a lot. I’m a serial entrepreneur, a creative thinker, a master of disguise and self-appointed Kingmaker of the modern art scene.
I had a few short-lived businesses under my belt when I decided that the art world needed me. Estate agency led on to a spate of opportunistic ventures related to Bosnia, glorified travel and charter flight agencies. One of these, which existed from June 2002 to August 2004 was called AIR BOSNA – THE AIRLINES OF BOSNIA AND HERZAGAVENA LTD, and offered non-specific ‘support services to government’. (It might seem strange that I wasn’t able to spell ‘Herzegovina’, but this deliberate misspelling technique is a fabulous way to stay under the radar when people are trying to verify claims you’ve made about your past. They’ll naturally search for the correct spelling and fail to find you, leaving you free to make further outlandish claims without detection).
I subsequently founded FLY BOSNIA LIMITED which lasted for three years and might actually have arranged a charter flight or two to Bosnia as an agent by booking space on other airline’s planes. It never realised its dreams of flying itself though, but that didn’t stop me claiming that I ‘ran’ a ‘national airline’ at the tender age of 29. When you lie, you’ve got to lie big.
That said, it can backfire - take a more recent example: I helped to facilitate one measly session on creative entrepreneurship for the British Council, which I probably got through blagging and nepotism. I then decided to make a public announcement on the Debut Contemporary website: “it is our privilege to report that our CEO, Samir Cedric, has been appointed as a board member of the British Council of Creative Entrepreneurship”, particularly responsible for the Young Creative Entrepreneur Programme. Was this true? Was it hell. However, somehow the British Council found out that I had been publicising this erroneous and “certainly misleading” information and requested that I remove the page from my site and proceeded to remove all trace of me from theirs.
Anyhow, my big idea with Debut Contemporary was to exploit the desperation of young artists by charging them an exorbitant fee for an overblown mentorship scheme (essentially a few of my cronies peddling their financial advice services and calling it a career development workshop) and a brief chance to exhibit their work in a tiny corner of space in my Notting Hill vanity gallery...if they’re lucky. Oh, and I make sure to lock them in for three months’ commitment with no option to cancel early, raking in a tidy £1,200 each, then bully, threaten and silence them if they challenge this or seek any money back. A great scam, and while admittedly morally dubious, if artists are stupid enough to stake the equivalent of three months’ rent on some half-arsed chance of furthering their practice, then more fool them, right? Well, I firmly believe so, which is why I purposely target vulnerable and poverty-stricken art school graduates and tell them they have been ‘selected’ for this prestigious opportunity to develop as an artist. After all, if they can’t pay, I’m sure their parents will. It’s the circle of life. I’m a self-made man, a lion, a king of the jungle, and they are simply weaker, easily-influenced prey. And if their art sells because they do all the legwork promoting themselves and finding buyers so I make hideous profit, even better. I’m so influential it hurts.
Some further reading:


  1. Another link for the files:

  2. THANK YOU!!!!! Those bastards robbed me of my deposit too. That slimy bastard deserves everything he gets!

    1. Tonight we're going to the gallery to celebrate their 3rd birthday party. Meet at The Redan, 1 Westborne Grove from 7pm. Come and get your deposit back ;)
      Love from
      Charlie Gates

  3. He still claims the board position on Twitter

  4. I'm so sorry to read about this, but your work is just so incredible and totally is head and shoulders above this. I saw those Stuckists do something similar once...or twice...

  5. We would love to help ensure this scumbag gets all he deserves and are happy to share any news/updates about him to try and get him caught. We have shred news of him through our extensive social network and we will be very happy to share more.

    1. Hey Jean, Yeah please do share away! Everyone needs to know, it's a duty of care to other artists..


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