Andy Warhol Foundation Settles With Artist Lynn Goldsmith After Landmark Ruling

The sum includes nearly $11,000 in legal fees and covers a 2016 license to Condé Nast.

Lynn Goldsmith's photograph of musician Prince. Photo: Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images.

Nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark copyright decision siding with artist Lynn Goldsmith, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has agreed to pay the photographer a $21,000 settlement to end the dispute.

The settlement was announced in a joint filing made by the photographer and the Andy Warhol Foundation in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The case centered on a photograph Goldsmith took of the musical artist Prince in 1981, three years before he released his album “Purple Rain” and became an international superstar. When Prince released his groundbreaking album, the magazine Vanity Fair spent $400 to license the photo as an artist’s reference and commissioned Warhol to make a screenprint based on it.

Andy Warhol's Prince illustration based on the Lynn Goldsmith photograph as it appeared in Vanity Fair, here reproduced in court documents.

Andy Warhol’s Prince illustration based on the Lynn Goldsmith photograph as it appeared in Vanity Fair, here reproduced in court documents.

Goldsmith has said in court documents that she was unaware that the image was to be used by Warhol and that he would continue to make artworks, not commissioned by Vanity Fair, collectively known as his Prince Series. When Prince died in 2016, the magazine Condé Nast used one of Warhol’s prints on its cover to pay tribute to the famed musician.

The photographer’s lawsuit had stemmed around the 2016 license to Condé Nast, as the statute of limitations for the alleged copyright infringement by Warhol had run out. The $21,000 settlement includes an award of $10,250 to cover the 2016 license, with the remainder reimbursing the Goldsmith for her legal fees, court documents show.

a woman stands in a boxing ring wearing a pair of red gloves that read 'warhol foundation vs goldsmith'

Lynn Goldsmith waged a years-long battle against the Andy Warhol Foundation. Photo courtesy of Lynn Goldsmith.

The Andy Warhol Foundation, which manages the estate of the pop artist, who died in 1987, has long contended that Warhol’s use of the Goldsmith’s photograph was fair use. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that Warhol did infringe on Goldsmith’s copyright because it did not meet the criteria for fair use, because both works had served the same commercial purpose. However, the justices did not determine the decision applied to the whole of the “Prince Series.”

“AWF’s position is that the original creation of the Prince Series was fair use, and that nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion undermines that view,” the foundation said in the joint filing.

Goldsmith said she is not advancing claims for relief for the remainder of the Prince Series because the statute of limitations has expired. The foundation has thus agreed to withdraw its lawsuit against the photographer seeking a judgment declaring whether the “Prince Series” in full violated her copyright.

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