The cartoonist Alfredo Sábat did not receive the prize he won last year. Below we publish his letter and the answer from ACA organizer.
My name is Alfredo Sábat, I am a cartoonist from Argentina. I am 42 years old, and have been working as a full-time cartoonist for 13 years now. I have been publishing daily cartoons in “La Nación” of Buenos Aires for 10 years, and have won several international awards, among them the “World Press Cartoon” (First Prize, Editorial Cartoon 2006; Third Prize, Caricature 2007), and the Ranan Lurie Award given by the United Nations Corespondents Association in 2006. My full CV and samples of my work may be seen at www.alfredosabat.com
The reason for writing these lines is that I would like to warn my colleagues around the world about a cartoon contest with which I have had a very sad experience. The contest is the Austrian Cartoon Award, and it is going to take place again this year. I would like everyone to know what I went through before sending their entries.
On November 23rd, 2007 I received an invitation via e-mail to participate in the Austrian Cartoon Award. This invitation included the Contest Regulations. I read them, found them intersting enough, and decided to send some works, which for the selecting process were to be sent in digital format only. On April 21st, 2008, I was told I was a finalist, and was asked to send my original entry, which I did.
On June 11th, I was told I was invited to Graz, Austria, to be at the Awards Gala. I was told later this invitation did not include the airline ticket, so I answered I was unable to afford a ticket without knowing what my award would be. At this point I was told that in any case the award would be sent via mail. I later found out the award I won was the Third Prize in the Caricature section, worth 1000 euros.
Suddenly, I was told by the Contest director, Mr. Christoph Morre, that I wouldn’t be getting my money because I didn’t travel to Graz to receive it. He even said it was written in the Regulations. I still keep the original regulations, and it says no such thing, at least it doesn’t in the English version. If it does say so in the German version, then it’s a translation problem, not my problem. I protested but got no answer.
I decided to contact the Argentinian Ambassador to Austria, Mr. Eugenio Curia, to ask him to find Mr. Morre and see what he could do. At first he got no answer, later Mr. Morre insisted it was in the regulations, finally he said that maybe they could pay 500 euros. But it didn’t go much further. If it didn’t, it wasn’t because the Ambassador didn’t try. I must point out the Ambassador himself was handling my problem, and I am a simple Argentinian citizen. So I am very grateful to him.
After some months, I got an e-mail on February 5th, 2009 from Mr. Morre. He said he had just got a call from the Ambassador and that he couldn’t understand why. He insisted it was on the regulations, and invited me to visit a webpage where I could read the regulations. I visited the webpage, and found some regulations which did say I couldn’t get my money. But these regulations weren’t those I received on November 2007, which I still keep. In other words, these were some fake regulations he made up so as to avoid paying my award.
I was furious. I told him I wasn’t a begginer, sent him back the regulations he had sent me in 2007, and threatened him with making this story public. He answered right away. He said, in short, “You have to understand, nobody came to the awards ceremony, the sponsors were very angry and didn’t want to pay”.
The problem is, the contestants don’t know, don’t ask and don’t care about his sponsor problems. Mr. Morre issued an invitation to an international contest. He promised awards. He gave his word. He has to comply.
Then, in March he said he had deposited the money in my account. I sat and waited for a 1000 euro deposit, but got no news. I asked Mr. Morre for his bank receipt, so as to be able to find out what had happened with the money. I got no answer.
Last Friday, May 15th, I got an invitation for the new edition of the contest. I wrote immediately to Mr. Morre asking him if it was some kind of joke. I told him I still had no news of the money or the bank receipt. I threatened him once more, and he sent me the receipt. It was for a 300 euro deposit, not 1000.
At this point I would like to warn everyone: you may send your works to the Austrian Cartoon Awards. But be warned: you may never get your awards. You are dealing with a person who lies, and even gets to the point of faking evidence to avoid paying. I sent my works to Austria under the assumption that an Austrian contest, a contest from the country of my heroes Klimt, Schiele, Otto Wagner, Kokoschka, Freud and above all Mozart, would be a serious contest. Well, I was deeply disillusioned.
It is sad enough not to get the money I was promised by the regulations, it is sad as well to have lost my original artwork in such conditions, but the saddest part is being lied to.
I keep all e-mails I interchanged with Mr. Morre. I am attaching those I feel important, for everyone else to see the contradictions and lies I have had to endure. I hope this may be of some help to my colleagues. Thank you for your attention and good luck.
OK, I will talk with my team. Please send me your account information.
For international payment I need IBAN-Code and BIC-Code.
You must understand me, I had my sponsors on "award-ceremony" and
nobody of the winners where in Graz. They said, that cannot be, we
have a contract. So they paid less than a half of the sponsoring amount.
Hope to hear from you soon