Flaunt Magazine Didn't Pay Its Art Basel Bills, Locals Say

Categories: News

Kendrick_Lamar_credit_Marta.jpg
photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Kendrick Lamar performed at Flaunt's Mana warehouse party during Art Basel
Well, that didn't take long. The dust hasn't even settled yet on this year's Art Basel but already accusations of broken promises and unpaid bills are emerging.

Los Angeles-based fashionistas Flaunt Magazine, for instance, hosted a much-hyped party at Wynwood's Mana warehouses featuring Kendrick Lamar. But locals say Flaunt founder Luis Barajas flew in for Basel, berated them, and bounced without paying.

"I'm pissed," says Kerry McLaney, an event producer who estimates Barajas owes her and her crew $17,000. "I felt like I was coming onto this project as a favor. But instead, it turned into hell."

McLaney -- who has bright red hair and briefly freelanced for New Times several years ago -- was preparing for an already busy Basel schedule when she received an urgent call from a friend on Friday, November 29.

Event planner Stephanie Lobato told her that Flaunt Magazine needed a warehouse turned into an exhibition space in less than four days. McLaney had her doubts. Last year she had trouble getting paid for producing another Art Basel event for New York jetsetters. But she eventually agreed.

"They were in trouble if I didn't come onboard for this," McLaney says. "I was their last resort."

She examined the designs for 24 gallery-style walls and sent Barajas an estimate of $20,000. Barajas agreed and overnighted her a $10,000 deposit.

From Saturday through Tuesday, McLaney and her carpenters raced to ready the space. But McLaney says Barajas kept changing the plans, demanding retaining walls, even a stage on short notice. Some walls were built, then torn down, then built again.

Whenever McLaney asked for more money -- either to pay her employees or for new materials -- Barajas promised to pay her when the work was completed.

By Wednesday morning, hours before the Kendrick Lamar show, the project was nearly complete, McLaney says.

"Things weren't done on time but that was understandable because of all the changes Luis made," Lobato adds. "At end of the day, the show went off without a hitch."

But when McLaney went back to Mana on Thursday to pick up her check, Barajas blew up at her.

"He started freaking out on her and cussing at her and saying he wasn't paying for any of this," Lobato says. "He was super nasty." Lobato was so angry with Barajas's bullying that she stripped her name off of the 'Thank You' wall and walked out.

"I'm not going to give you your money," Barajas said to McLaney. "You're going to have to sue me."

Barajas then allegedly demanded security guards remove the woman from the space she helped construct. When they refused, he called Miami Police and had her escorted out.


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19 comments
StephenSorace
StephenSorace

My company had a similar situation last year's Art Basel from the magazine Haute Living. We worked 7 events in a row for them providing pictures and video with a 24 hour turn around time because they needed the pictures up immediately. At the end of Basel they refused to pay us saying our price was "too high" and wouldn't discuss with us any sort of agreement nor respond to any of our messages.  We also didnt sign a contract as they said it wasn't necessary; lesson learned. 


Since we were a new company and this was our first big client, they took advantage of us and we did not initially pursue for fear of the "larger corporation". Luckily I received great advice from a friend and are pursuing negotiations through a legal matter. 


We had enough money to continue the company, but for other businesses they might have invested more then could handle. 

Erik Swagerty
Erik Swagerty

Didn't something like this happen last year too?

Louis Wing
Louis Wing

emmm....la cheque es en.. the mail

Jeff Rab
Jeff Rab

not surprising. this is pretty typical for event producers.

Street Art
Street Art

No ones fault but the event planner. Should have requested all the money up front.

Liana Lozada
Liana Lozada

This tops their Guantanamo-themed Coachella party last year.

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

One of the lessons here is simple, and Kerry alluded to it in this poorly written article, Miami locals should be very weary of working with out of towners who come in and act like they own this place. On the contrary, we should work against them. But then again, you have examples like the FON fest, who were locals, and completely fucked over so many locals. Maybe in general the real lesson here is you just say no unless you get paid first. Period.

Can someone take this stupid badge off my name?? :)


DavidDennis
DavidDennis

Objectively, it looks like pretty nice work to me.  Certainly seems good enough to please any reasonable audience.

Myra Wexler
Myra Wexler

YO Kerry McLaney, darling, yo MOMMA had NO idea. How DARE that AHOLE!!! Take him to court, for sure. There ought to be a law. So sorry to hear about this.

Chris Anthony
Chris Anthony

then don't let them back in, it is amazing to hear from artist as too how many were ripped off, while others pull stunts like this SMH in disgust!!!

JoseDuran
JoseDuran moderator communitymanager

@jjcolagrande J.J.: I have a lot of respect for you, but when you throw remarks like "poorly written" when it's anything but it makes it difficult to maintain that level of respect.

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@JoseDuran I respect you too and I retract the poorly written comment. The article is well-written, I should've been more specific. I was turned off by a few sentences like "she says with a shake of her red hair." It makes the victim seem like a caricature or bobble-head, and we learned of her red hair on the first page, why is that even important, but that's my opinion--more importantly, this is a digression and a nitpick and I don't mind being called out for it. By the way, those walls looked fine.

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