Off the Top of My HeadBy Paul Murray
Would the real Dean Buchanan please stand up?
If you see this guy, he’s not Dean Buchanan…
In the summer of 2006, a guy claiming to be Auckland artist Dean Buchanan arrived in Karamea and asked to stay with us at the LivinginPeace Project. His line was that he was overwhelmed by media attention and had decided to escape the limelight for a while to concentrate on his artwork out of the public eye. He also had an artwork to deliver to Shania Twain and was on his way to Wanaka to meet her and deliver the painting, which she had apparently agreed to purchase for $NZ17,000.
As the founder of the LivinginPeace Project, which incorporates art, travel, permaculture and education into a sustainable business, I was delighted with the opportunity to host such a successful and well-established artist as one of the principle objectives of the LivinginPeace Project is to assist artists and foster creative pursuit.
I offered “Dean” a quiet, peaceful cabin on our permaculture farm so that he could live and work without interruption. The cabin has no phone, Internet or other distraction and he said it was exactly what he was looking for and thanked me profusely for the opportunity. I gave him a very reasonable rental rate and looked forward to getting to know him and seeing what came out of the arrangement artistically.
I have to establish clearly that “Dean” was a very nice person, extremely amicable, had a great sense of humour, and was always eager to help on the farm and with the business…it was pleasant to host him and he was a very low-maintenance guest…the only problem is that he wasn’t Dean Buchanan.
He was driving an old Toyota truck that was loaded with artworks of all descriptions, including the 3mx2m abstract landscape that was scheduled for the wall of Twain’s Motatapu Station property near Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand. The painting was superb, a rugged landscape in warm colours on hessian featuring New Zealand forest…”Dean” allowed us to display it on the wall at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery until it was time for him to deliver it to Twain…again, I was delighted to have such a beautiful artwork on loan in our gallery.
After about a week, I noticed that “Dean” hadn’t really been doing much in terms of painting and my spidey sense began to tingle a little. I did some research on Dean Buchanan and his artwork and the available photos at that time were insufficient for me to definitively determine that “Dean” was not Dean. Both Deans were around the same age, had similar facial features and the information I was able to track down online was in line with what “Dean” had told me, so I decided to accept his story and allow him to stay on. I accepted that his lack of productivity was in line with his stated need for peace and quiet and rest to recover from an intensively creative phase of his career and the associated media attention.
After two weeks, I asked for payment for his accommodation and my intuition proved to be correct…”Dean” didn’t have any money! He then wanted to work for accommodation, or give me some artworks from his van in lieu of payment…my response was then as it is now…”I can’t pay my bills with paintings mate,” “Pay up, and honour our agreement, or move on.”
Several months later, the real Dean Buchanan called and filled in the details. Apparently, “Dean” was an impostor who had stolen his identity along with many of his artworks and was travelling around selling them to finance his life.
I called the real Dean Buchanan at his studio in Auckland to get an update on proceedings and apparently the identity/art thief is still on the lam.
Buchanan said the impostor’s real name was “Ian something, but he also goes by Gunny Huckleberry.” He added “Last I heard, he was in Napier smoking “P” and whoring it up in my name.”
Identity theft is becoming a popular form of fraud these days and “Gunny Huckleberry” has cost Dean Buchanan thousands of dollars in damaged reputation, character defamation as well as the theft of his physical and intellectual property.
To see the awesome artworks of the real Dean Buchanan visit his Web site:
On a positive note, we now offer the cabin on our permaculture farm to aspiring artist’s as part of the LivinginPeace Project Artist in Residence Programme and it has become known as the Artist’s Bach. We have hosted artists from the United States, Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Japan, Israel, and New Zealand.
As a result of this blog post, the impostor, whose real name is Ian Malcolm Baike, has been apprehended by police in Napier and the real Dean Buchanan has his identity back…a good result for all concerned. I’m sorry Ian, you were a nice guy, but you can’t go about stealing other people’s property and assuming their identity…that’s just not on Mate!
Imposter’s art of disreputable living
(Sunday Star Times June 2, 2013)By Ian Steward (Photo: PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ) REAL DEAL: Auckland artist Dean Buchanan has had a con-man impersonating him and selling his artwork over the past six years.
For many artists, imitation is the highest form of flattery. But this is taking it a bit far.
For six years, after a truck-load of his paintings disappeared, west Auckland artist Dean Buchanan has been getting reports of his own disreputable behaviour from around the country.
In Karamea, on the West Coast, he stayed at a backpackers for two weeks, apparently on his way to sell a painting to Shania Twain at her ranch in central Otago, and then could not pay his bill.
A friend told him he had “shagged a woman in the back of his truck” while selling paintings at Auckland’s Parnell markets.
He heard he had sold another woman a painting in Aotea Square, Auckland, signed the back of it with a cheesy slogan and then made a pass at her when he helped her hang it.
The thing is, it was all news to Buchanan.
Turns out an impostor had been touring the country claiming to be Buchanan and living off – and spoiling – the artist’s reputation.
The real Buchanan noticed something was wrong when people were getting upset with him for no reason, particularly for ignoring close friends and family.
“Friends of my mother’s were saying to her ‘Dean’s down at the Browns Bay market selling his paintings.’ Mum rang up and said ‘Why didn’t you come up and see me?’ ”
Similarly, in Wanaka, the wife of a mountain-climbing friend heard Buchanan was in town selling paintings at the local square. She went and asked the man if he was her old friend and when he said yes, she said “Well, I don’t think you are”.
One night Buchanan, a super-fit non-drinker, got a phone call from “the VIP bar at Sky City,” where someone claiming to be him was trying to cash a cheque for $5000.
Buchanan said he met the alleged imposter some years ago and entered into a loose agreement for him to sell his paintings. When he dissolved their relationship, it is alleged the man disappeared with a truckload of Buchanan’s paintings.
Buchanan’s paintings sell for thousands of dollars, and he has exhibited in Japan, the United States and Switzerland.
“I’ve met numerous people who have bought paintings off me who [actually] haven’t,” Buchanan said, “It’s really devastatingly annoying.”
Buchanan has had gallery owners as far afield as Arrowtown refuse to stock his work after news of his supposedly “disreputable” behaviour.
“People look at me like I’m really bent. Being ostracised is really horrible, especially when you haven’t done anything.”
Devonport woman Sandra Killen bought a painting from the fake Buchanan at Aotea Square about five years ago. He insisted she pay in cash and then helped her to hang it in her apartment, but not before he signed the back “Love Auckland and it’ll love you, DB.”
(Photo: PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ)
The real Buchanan said he never signs his paintings with his initials, and cheesy slogans are not his cup of tea either.
Killen said her focus was on art, so she was surprised when the fake Buchanan tried to kiss her.
“I said, ‘I’m not going out with you after I’ve just given you all this money.'”
Rongo Backpackers Karamea owner Paul Murray met “Dean Buchanan” as the artist passed through the West Coast, apparently on his way to sell a painting to Shania Twain at her ranch in central Otago.
Murray said the man was an amicable, friendly guest who allowed the backpackers to hang “Shania’s” painting in the premises while he relaxed and “recovered his artistic muse.” He then could not pay his bill.
A man has recently been charged with theft by a person in a special relationship over the disappearance of $20,000 worth of Buchanan’s paintings.
Anyone who thinks they may have bought a Buchanan from the wrong man is asked to contact Detective Constable Stacey Bailey of the Napier police.
– © Fairfax NZ News
Art dealer posed as top artist, court hears
By Rob Kidd
They say life imitates art.
But sometimes, it appears, it imitates artists.
Revered Auckland artist Dean Buchanan was repeatedly told about a man peddling his work in towns he had never been to, and that he was reportedly signing the work for lucky punters too.
A couple of years earlier, the artist had entered into a “loose agreement” with 59-year-old Ian Malcolm Baikie that would see Mr Buchanan provide him with paintings to sell.
The arrangement originally went to plan as Baikie sold a few, handing the proceeds back to the artist.
“I said to him once ‘just give me some paperwork, sell my paintings, don’t get greedy and everything will work out fine’,” Mr Buchanan said.
By 2006, the relationship soured when Mr Buchanan started hearing stories about what the seller had been up to.
Baikie refused to either return Mr Buchanan’s paintings – a couple of dozen, according to the artist – or give him the cash from their sale.
Mr Buchanan and Graham Brimble, who had also given the amateur art dealer work to sell, made a complaint to police and in June 2013 he was charged and appeared before the Napier District Court.
After denying the charge, Baikie stood trial in the Auckland District Court this week where Judge Brooke Gibson heard from several witnesses who had seen him selling paintings around the country.
Barbara Stevens, who knew Mr Buchanan well, told the court via audio-visual link from Perth that she was bewildered to see Baikie passing himself off as the artist at a market in Wanaka eight years ago.
She challenged him about his identity but he brazenly stuck to his story.
There were further sightings in Napier, Karamea and Piha.
Because of the lack of documentation the Crown could not prove the extent of Baikie’s theft or how much the artwork may have been worth but Mr Buchanan said it was not about the money.
“I don’t care about that, eh,” he said.
Judge Gibson found 59-year-old Baikie guilty of two charges of theft in a special relationship, and was prepared to sentence him yesterday but his lawyers requested time to prepare an application for a discharge without conviction.
Mr Buchanan considered the likelihood of him getting off without penalty as “unlikely” and described the whole scenario as “just all so pathetically sad”.
In the meantime, Mr Buchanan’s star had been on the rise, selling work around the globe to celebrities such as former member of The Smiths, Johnny Marr.
He had also recently designed the stained glass windows for Kings College’s new chapel.
Outside court, Baikie said the court had been told “bold-arsed lies” and he wished he had given evidence.
He was remanded on bail and will be sentenced next month.