Posted by pancho (220.127.116.11) on January 25, 2002 at 14:43:42:
I donLt believe I defended you at all when Gassman made his crude attacks...I merely explained you, and not for him,.. he knows he is a liar...for others who might not know. I donLt work on the "friend" principle. I expect more from my children and friends than I do from strangers and though I may appear to be harder on them, it is because they matter more to me.
I believe deep down you know I was wronged by your husband, more so because he supported Jackie Bejan who holds you both in utter contempt, as she has made so painfully clear to me on several occasions...you know that because we always discussed it. I can only guess at his reasons, but not here. As it stands today I am in the position of suing John Nimrod, you amd your husband, Jackie and a few others who donLt need to know it yet. I believe you think I am joking about this.
You told Jeff recently that you so want Hammurabi to come to Hart Plaza in Detroit...you even let drop that you had some donors for the project as does your cousin Martin Manna. I assume you knew that Jeff would communicate the information to me. I donLt know what you people can be thinking except to say you evidently believe that dangling money in front of me, or withdrawing it, will motivate me somehow to agree to whatever you propose. The short answer is that there is no way I would work with any of you again, or that I would bring the Hammurabi to Detroit. And there is no way on GodLs earth that I would NOT finish the Hammurabi.
You remember when Atour first raised his objection to the new way I wanted to make the maquette of Hammurabi, how he said the old way was more to his liking, and even after I explained to him my reasons...which was more then I would have offered to anyone else...he still insisted, till even you admonished him for going on about it, saying that I didnLt offer to design cars for Ford and why didnLt we each stick to what we did best etc. I know you believed I was right, at least in expecting my wishes for my own designs to be respected if not agreed with...and it must have been with some apprehension that you watched to see what my reaction would be when I arrived at your house for the CARE awards banquet and Art Show...and saw the three sculptures welded together just the way Atour wanted them, as if I hadnLt said a word to him about not doing it.
You have been angry with me for mentioning it on the internet, for bringing up Ford as the place where this was done, with their equipment and their technicians...you wondered aloud how I could do such a thing and risk AtourLs position there. You even went so far as to put out an alternate version which makes Atour out to be a liar, but at least saves him from trouble with his bosses. A lie that wont wash any cleaner when the time comes. I know you all regret this like hell, and wish it would just all go away, or had never happened...so do I. But it did happen and it was instigated by Jackie Bejan because she couldnLt buy me or scare me and so she tried to screw me good. How she ever got your husband to go along with it I donLt know...I donLt want to know, yet.
I was no more a sculptor when I began the Ashurbanipal Monument than I am a lawyer today. I did the impossible in this community as it was constitutd then. Back then, almost twenty years ago, it was as impossible as it is today to get a dime from our community for any cultural expression...for a school even, let alone a public monument. And who had the kind of respect and standing in our community to win peopleLs trust, especially ours who have so little of it and apparently for good reason?
Without NarsaiLs involvement, without his leadership and reputation it might never have been possible to complete the Ashurbanipal...I would rather not admit that because I canLt see myself giving up on anything that important to me. But just you, or your husband or Jackie or John try to walk in on Narsai unannounced one day...at his office when it is filled with people at desks and on phones conducting what was then his small empire...and try getting his immediate attention by placing anything youLd care to think of that you made or wrote on his desk...as I plopped down a bronze maquette and told him I wanted to make the first Assyrian monument in over 2500 years. Try to get him to come to you and agree to back you with that same reputation he has worked so hard to develop and deserves. The Ashubanipal was made possible by NarsaiLs committment and dedication... but I won his confidence because he could recognize the same determination we share. ThatLs why we have remained friends of a most unique sort since then and through all sorts of storms. We know bullshit when we see it...and when we donLt.
That same determination convinced San Francisco to give us what is rapidly becoming one of the best locations for any monument in one of the worldLs foremost cities. That same determination kept me working at the Shumirum for 13 years and counting...and the same determination will complete the Hammurabi, as the same determination got me to get the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC to agree to an unprecedented showing of my thirty portraits of major characters from the plays of William Shakespeare, based soley on a video of the works in progress...when I fifnish them.
One more bit...years ago when I thought to offer to do portraits, I was called by Robert MondaviLs personal assistant who told me that Mondavi wanted to meet me on the basis of some photos I sent him on a lark. We met, and he commissioned me to make a portrait of him for his 90th birthday. He came to my studio and I posed him in his office several times. At our second meeting I almsot fell on the floor when he asked his assistant to verify the fact that he had seldom ever responded to anyoneLs sculpture the way he had to mine, and he believed I was the one to do him justice. Mind you this man is partners with Baron de Rothschield...travels extensively and knows many artists. You can put it down to flattery but it was hardly needed...or you could just say he was telling the truth. And this is the same sculptor whose works your husband dumped in a corner and had escorted to the door of a fea bitten vertical motel in San Jose...by orders of Jackie Bejan, who he played the flunky for. Do you suppose this raised him in her estimation, or lowered him even further?
My point in all of this, is that the same man who did those things has now bent every neve and fiber and resource to getting his day in court. That means seeing you all before a judge and jury where you will be allowed full scope to explain, and hang yourselves.
And you have a great deal to answer to. I told you, as I told John Nimrod, that calling the money paid for the maquettes a "donation" was not only inaccurate but illegal as well. I explained to you how an ex IRS supervisor who happens to be a tax consultant for a friend told us that the IRS does not allow deductions in the exact amount of a donation. I explained how if someone donated $6,000.00 to any non profit and received back a gift of appreciation also worth $6,000.00, or anywhere near that sum, the IRS would pounce, because what you have set up is a way for people to buy sculpture and write off half or a third, depending on their tax bracket, If someone is in the fifty percentile tax bracket and "donates" $6,000.00...and receives a hat or a bronze sculpture worth $6,000.00, then they only wind up out of pocket $3,000.00, plus which they get all the positive press for having GIVEN twice as much.
I told you this was illegal and anyone being encouraged to make such a claim would be setting themselves up for an audit. Both you, and John Nimrod before you refused to believe me and went ahead telling the community they could claim a deduction they cannot by law. In other words anyone who folowed your advice violated the law and could face a fine and audit.
And this last month, when your cousin Martin Manna stepped in to "get donors" he too wound up by saying we would have to run these funds through you, In other words through the same old tax scam. I refused. I donLt know if you were trying now to implicate me in the sceme or what...but you were reponsible for the financial end, not me. By law I canLt have any involvement in such a non profit venture that winds up "profiting" me. I told you to just call them sales and be done with it. I even offered Martin to deduct what the "buyers" WOULD have benefited from your scam, from the price paid for the sculpture, even though that would have reduced what was left over for the monument considerably. More work for me, but I didnLt care then...so long as we got the project done...which was also why I didnLt curse you both and walk out of your house when you did to my work what no one in New York or anywhere else would have done.
But after the convention, and after I moved to Mexico on your assurance that there was nothing to worry about, that you had plenty of donors...and when I got here when you next floated the idea that I would have to sign a contract or there would be no funds...a contract whose chief clause was that I agree to turn the completed monument over to a man who had already shown contempt for my wishes for my own sculpture...and after it became painfully clear that you also consider the artist to be nothing more than a glorified carpenter or cabinetmaker...one you hire and pay to do a job and who has no business telling you where to put the piece or how to light it, or what should surround it...that once you have paid him his wages he can just mind his own business...it was only after all these slights and insults that I decided to proceed as I have, and I gave you all fair warning, as you know from the first letter my lawyer sent to all of you.
Ill tell you something lese. I had a devil of a time finding a lawyer to take the case because none of them would believe me...they could not understand how grown people, otherwise professional and especially in their capacities as proud Assyrians and all of that...and ESPECIALLY when one considers that the tax exempt status awarded you all by the Federal government expressly for the purpose of Lpromoting the Assyrian Heritage...would lead you allLinstead to combine your resources to break and ban the one artist we have produced who got our name just the sort of exposure a sane person would think you all would have welcomed. A person would think that way that is until he or she became more aquainted with the private little workings of these clubs from hell...and I finaly found one lawyer who became interested and them intrigued and then outraged...and he took the case. But even he had to go research and find some precedent for people behaving the way you all did. He also refused to take it on consignment and so I have had to scrape the money together o pay him for the research and for trips to get depositions out of those of you we canLt compel to appear in San Jose. But I told him early on that I did not expect or care if he won a single dime for me...all I wanted him to be able to do for me was structure the charge and follow through on all the motions necessary to at least get us all in court.
Even if I canLt come up with the money to pay him to actually conduct the hearing, I feel confident that if I can face each of you in a court of law, in front of a jury of our peers, and simply ask the court to have you explain yourselves...you will win my case for me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing you can say in your defense, and that will become painfully clear as you consult lawyers in your turn, if you tell them the entire story as I had to.
It was because of you, your husband and the others that I was forced to borrow money, to cut my prices in half and go begging, even to the point of having to front all the money for castings myself because you had all spread the word that I donLt deliver. It was because of you that I had to be separated from my children for the first time ever and that at Christmastime while you were all making merry with yours. It is because of what you did that my career as an artist who could command serious prices in galleries, something I only ventured out to do last year, is over, because who can be sure I wont make more "cuts" next year...when times might get "tough" again. It is because of you that I have had to invest what little I could scrape together in a horse riding stable and work in it myself, and put my daughterLs own horse to work so we can eat. You met my daughter, you came to dinner at our house, we stayed at yours...we sent presents to each others children and asked about them over the telephone. You were even there the day she got her horse...you saw her face, you saw how excited she was...your own children rode the horse. Do you have any idea what it means to a young girl who has dreamed of a horse for years to finally get one...and then to have to let strangers ride it so her father can support her?
As I said...I am a determined person, and you have done to me and my family and my work and reputation what no decent human being would have dared do, could live with themselves for doing. Out of your own abundant ignorance you decided what sculpture should look like and you took all of my aquiessence as a sign that you could do as you wished instead of respecting my willingness to suffer your foolishness for the sake of all our children and their pride in this country where their Heritage is still a well kept secret because their parents canLt come up with single expression of it that doesnLt embarrass us all. And when I presumed to speak in defense of my designs and ideas...tried to tell you that an artist not only works with his hands but his mind and heart and soul, you told me to be quiet and just "do my work".
You have a serious battle looming before you. The United States Constitution promises me the right to a fair hearing against those who have intentionally wronged and damaged me...and in this case you hurt our people as well...most of all those children not yet born who desperately needed to see my monuments and other sculptures and not necessarily to hear JackieLs brother sing at the unveiling ceremony for Shumirum.
Thanks to that same Hammurabi we no longer exact an eye for an eye...I wonLt be spreading rumors about you and Atour or others...I wont try to hurt his ability to feed his family or make your children have to forego what is dearest to them. I will simply tell my story to a judge and jury and invite you all to do the same. May justice prevail.
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