In this day and age, and especially if you live in fairly affluent parts of the United States, we sometimes forget that the differences between classes can be stark, harsh, and painfully shocking. As the world has quickly developed, many of us spend much of our time trying to consciously understand the perspective and situations of a wide variety of people with different races, religions, and social and economic classes. What we sometimes forget however is that it is just as easy to be a jackass about something you may have been lucky to be born into.
To be frank, I am embarrassed by the actions of interior designer Mike Hurley, a man whose recent actions represent the epitome of high-class snobbery. Regardless of whether or not he and his wife graphic designer Malu Custer Edwards have high quality work or not, they have recently illustrated a level of disrespect and outright abuse that would have earned me a smack upside the head by my mother if I was ever caught acting so high and mighty.
Likely the most painful example of this was the Chilean aristocratic power couple's treatment of Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica, a 50-year-old nanny who sued with the claim that she was kept in "slave-like conditions" in the couple's Upper East Side Manhattan home. The duo apparently paid her about $2 an hour for her labor and let their children beat her.
"Garnica followed the couple when they decided to move to SoHo so that Edwards could study graphic design at the New School. But Garnica alleges that when they arrived in January 2011, everything changed. The children grew violent and the couple refused to feed her adequately, although they were regulars at Balthazar and 'spent lavishly' on themselves."
In March 2011, Garnica was hit in the head with the refrigerator door by a member of the Hurley-Edwards family, and subsequently walked out and went to Safe Horizon, a non-profit support group for abuse victims. Soon after that, the state Department of Labor ordered Hurley and Edwards to pay Garnica more than $6,000 in back wages.
Roque Rodriguez, a Chilean photographer also had his own case and evidence against Hurley accusing him of extreme penny-pinching, deceit, and vitriol. Chilean news outlet The Clinic published a group of emails sent between Hurley and Rodriguez from when the latter performed some interior design photography for Hurley in 2009. When Rodriquez requested money he was owed in 2010, he underwent a vicious email assault from Hurley that will make you laugh in shock and horror.
The full email exchange, originally written in Spanish, can be found here. A translated version, courtesy of Victor Jeffreys and Peter Krupa, is below:
Asunto: Fwd: Mail de la discordia
Asunto: Caso Hurley
From: M&M Hurley firstname.lastname@example.org
To: roque rodriguez email@example.com
Sent: Mon, October 4, 2010 12:34:50 PM
Hi Roque, how are you? What happened with the photographs? I have been in NY for 2 months and tomorrow I leave for Key Biscayne to finish an apartment that I am decorating and a client wants to see photos from Lo Curro [Ed note: Lo Curro is an ultra-exclusive neighborhood in Santiago].
Send me the photos (take time to interrupt your daily party in Berlin).
And answer this email.
HURLEY & CO.
From: roque rodriguez
To: M&M Hurley
Sent: Mon, October 4, 2010 1:00:39 PM
Hi Micky! Transfer the US$240 that you owe me from 5 months ago for this job to my account and I would be happy to send you the photos.
[then he gives his banking details]
Datos: Banco Santander, cta cte 0437xxxx, Rut. 11740.xxx-x, Roque Rodríguez Castillo, firstname.lastname@example.org
From: M&M Hurley
To: roque rodriguez
Sent: Mon, October 4, 2010 3:28:44 PM
Stop with your nonsense. I DO NOT OWE YOU ANYTHING!!!! How am I going to PAY if you don’t deliver the job to me.
HURLEY & CO.
From: roque rodriguez
To: M&M Hurley
Sent: Mon, October 4, 2010 4:43:04 PM
The job has been ready for months and don’t come at me with this bullshit, Micky. If you want your photos, I will send them to you after you transfer [the funds] online into my account, simple and easy.
Let me know by tomorrow if you want them, if not, I will erase them from my files as they are taking up space on my hard drive. At the end of the day, if you are not willing to pay, I will not be bitter about the US$240, but forget about me ever working with you in the future.
I was looking at your website and I see that almost half of the images there are mine... and I also saw that the photos that we took in different apartments in NY are included as work you've done. I didn't know you decorated all those places...
MAIL DE HURLEY:
Read carefully what I am writing here, as it will be the last time I do so. Listen you poor, miserable, ROTEQUE [Ed note: "Roteque" does not have a direct translation to English. It implies someone from a lower class and is an incredibly offensive word. The most awful adjective you can think of], low-born social climber. Delete your grubby photos. DON'T COME THREATENING ME YOU WORTHLESS LITTLE SHIT. NEVER. Remember, you are ALWAYS going to be from a different class, you were born where you were born, and even if you were reborn a billion times, you will never have a Baroness for a grandmother like me.
This is what I get for working with street trash like you. For your information, the photos on my webpage, the ones that I have not bothered updating, are from STYLING. I don't have to fake my way through with other peoples' work. They know my work, they know I have a good eye, and I've been on the cover of magazines a number of times.
What’s more, you wretch, in April Architectural Design is coming to photograph the apartment I am decorating in Miami. With all of its Matisse, Dufy, and Bonard paintings. So I guess you can see, you idiot, the level I'm on. Oh! and the gentleman from Sutton Place asked me to renovate his home in Greenwich...what do you think of that? Jealous?? I would have paid you your miserable US$240 immediately if you if you’d delivered the work first, AS IT SHOULD BE. Delete my email address and all of my information. You, parvenu, are dead to me. Malu once asked me how I could trust you so much. It's obvious now, when you give poor trash an inch, they take a mile.
You screwed me over with the Lo Curro photos, very unprofessional. Just remember, because you have angered me you will NEVER work for ANY magazine or newspaper in Chile.
Goodbye, great-grandson of a seamstress.
HURLEY & CO.
Not surprisingly, an emailed request for comment from Micky Hurley has not yet been returned.