Help me with this won’t you?

Sometime ago, I commissioned a sculptor to sculpt something that I can then give as my gift to the world. He is a world reknowned sculptor and because of all the recommendations from friends and family, I was sold on his competency to do, not just a job, but a fantastic job.

After some time, much sooner than I thought he would be for what was commissioned, he showed me his master piece. I liked it. I thought it was nice, had all the impactful stuff. But my friends who have bought sculptures before looked at it and said that it was not all that good. There were some blemishes, some areas of the sculpture was not quite proportional etc etc. Heck, in my eyes, it looked good, but my friends convinced me otherwise.

So, I had a chat with the sculptor. I told him that there are some things that need relooking and that he should work on them. To his credit, he did work on it and boy did he work ON IT.

Here’s where I need help: he has now come back to me with three things. He is showing me the sculpture that was first completed, and next to that, are two huge boxes that contain a whole lot of parts and pieces which he has worked on which will be added/affixed to the main sculpture.

What he is asking me to do is to accept the original sculpture, the stuff in the two huge boxes and cut him the payment. I think I should not pay him yet until he puts these pieces all together and shows them to me. I need to see the final sculpture before paying. Am I being fair?

He keeps telling me that I should just pay up fully now and he promises to work on it and anything else that might come up. Why is he doing this? What is his motive? Some of my friends say that he is actually a nice and wonderful sculptor who has a string of highly acclaimed sculptures that continue to grace some wonderful museums and buildings around the world. A part of me wants to just go ahead and pay him so that he can work on the final stuff and then I can gift it to the world. But another part of me says, hang on, show me the final piece, and then I will pay fully. Heck, I might even give a tip.

What would you do?


  1. It sounds like that in his mind, the time has come to realise if this is a profit making exercise or a time gap that could get deeper and deeper depending on the needs of his client.
    That’s not to say he doubts that you will pay him. But probably that he’s wanting the full security before going further into more work than he initially anticipated for the job.
    My advice? pay him now and if the piece is worth tipping for, transparently declare your tip to him as extra payment on completion of the sculpture.
    – AndyFitz

    • Thanks for that AndyFitz. If he thinks it is a profit making exercise, he is essentially taking me hostage. That does not make me comfortable. That tells me that I am now potentially beholden to his whims and fancies. If he is a hotshot as he claims to be, and the fact that he came in highly recommended, he should complete the task of combining all the additional parts into the original and show me the finished piece. I am tempted to tell him that I will tip him, but the tip and full payment will only be done once it is all complete.
      I have also been checking on his background and it does appear that he has had some issues with poorly made sculptures which he had offered to maintain, but has now abandoned. I don’t have a specific maintenance program of my commission, but I reckon he would be involved in it for sometime.

  2. Hmm, a tough one. I do sympathise with your desire to engage a reputable artisan for this important job. After all, you can’t be entrusting such critical work to some bunch of bohemian hippies who tell you they can do the same job for FREE now, can you? What value could anything possibly have if you aren’t paying for it?
    Now, hopefully you wrote this sculptor fellow a SPECIFICATION stating:
    – how many parts the final product should comprise (ONE)
    – how it should be compatible with the furniture you already have in the place you are going to display it, and not preclude future furniture arrangements
    – if you wanna modify it yourself later for whatever reason, it won’t collapse into a cloud of carcinogenic plaster dust
    – if it does get lost / vandalised / destroyed, you can hire someone else to re-create it exactly as it was first built
    – whether you and your giftees need special 3-D glasses (sold separately by the sculptor) to view the sculpture correctly
    – whether said glasses will still work after 3 years or the next “optical service pack”, whichever comes first.
    Also, since you’ve written about problems with e-banking in the past, I’d keep an eye on that cheque account to make sure that there aren’t suddenly a few more signatories who can vote “Approve” on the funds transfer to Mr Sculptor on your behalf. Heh.

    • Funny you mentioned bohemian hippies. I have gifted a lot of stuff from those chaps over the years and it has always been a delight. The irony of it is that one of those you call bohemian hippie was paid twice of what my current commission is asking for and that sculptor worked with a group of about 6 others and produced a set of stunning sculptures – and they are all standing today and being “discovered” by new folks daily.
      You see the current commission was not my first choice. I had been talking to some friends, but because of “hey, he comes highly recommended”, I thought, why not?
      Yes, I will take your point about the specification – never thought of it like that for this commission, but “he comes highly recommended”.
      Thanks for the tip about e-banking and cheque issue. I have actually no issue with e-banking to pay him, because, thankfully, he is not in that business at all!

Leave a Reply