Tommy Watson, one of Australia’s most famous indigenous artists, was successful yesterday in getting back from Red Sands Gallery, Alice Springs, 5 key paintings, valued conservatively at $265,000. Tommy had sued the gallery for his being grossly underpaid for a large group of paintings which he had painted in 2005.

John Ioannou of Agathon Galleries, who is a fluent speaker of Tommy Watson’s native Pitjatjantjarra language has been strongly supporting Tommy during his battle from the outset. John said today:

This is a very important victory for our indigenous artists. This fight was about artists, especially high profile ones like Tommy, receiving fair value for their works. This fairness issue has been festering for many years in commercial indigenous art practice and I applaud Tommy for standing up for his rights. I am honoured to have been able to support him. Tommy has authorised me to say that he is very happy with the out of court settlement.

Tommy, his family, and I want to thank journalist Jeremy Eccles and Australian Art Market Report for originally bringing this important issue to public attention. It is a great win for Aboriginal artists all round the country and sends a very clear message that they should be respected in their commercial dealings and be paid appropriately.


John Ioannou is available for interview.

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Marie Geissler:
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