Why the Donald Judd Foundation Is Suing Kim Kardashian

The Judd Foundation has called the furniture cheap knockoffs made of plywood.

The reality television star Kim Kardashian is facing a lawsuit after she falsely claimed that her tables were authentic works by the late minimalist artist Donald Judd. Photo courtesy of court documents

Reality television star Kim Kardashian is facing a lawsuit after she falsely claimed that her tables were authentic works by the late Minimalist artist Donald Judd.

The Judd Foundation, led by the artist’s daughter Rainer Judd, filed the lawsuit on March 27 in a California federal court against Kardashian and the firm Clements Design, which fabricated and sold what the foundation called “inauthentic” Judd furniture to Kardashian.

The dispute stems from an August 2022 video Kardashian posted on her personal YouTube account, in which she gave a tour of the Los Angeles office of her skincare brand, SKKN By Kim. The video garnered more than 3.7 million views, but has since been removed from the platform.

During the tour, Kardashian highlighted a “Rick Owens bed” in the office that she said was made by the fashion designer’s wife Michele Lamy. She also touted purported art by Vanessa Beecroft, a collaborator of her ex-husband Kanye West. But about two minutes into the video, Kardashian pointed to two tables she claimed were by Judd.

“If you guys are furniture people—because I’ve really gotten into furniture lately—these Donald Judd tables are really amazing and totally blend in with the seats,” Kardashian said in the video. The tables and chairs have been described as “knockoffs” of Donald Judd’s most renowned designs: La Mansana Table and Chair 84.

“Ms. Kardashian’s furniture is irrefutably fake,” Rainer Judd said in a statement published online. “The existence of inauthentic furniture undermines the integrity of [Donald Judd’s] original work which includes specifications of design, craftsmanship, and materials.”

Today, the Judd Foundation works directly with select fabricators “to maintain the standards of quality he set for his furniture,” the organization said. It specifically prohibits those who purchase Judd furniture from using it for marketing and promotional purposes. The foundation argued that Kardashian’s comments make it appear as if it had endorsed or granted her permission to use its furniture in her video.

“If creators’ works can simply be usurped with no repercussions and exploited by other people, what will be the protection for artists and designers to further create in the future?” Rainer Judd said in her statement.

The foundation further called the alleged knockoffs “identical” in design to works by Judd, though Clements Design has disputed that in comments to The New York Times. The design firm highlighted “obvious key differences” between the furniture, though has not responded to Artnet News’s request for comment on what those differences may be.

In the lawsuit, the foundation said the works appear to be identical in width and height, noting the main difference appears to be that the Kardashian table are made of plywood, which the foundation does not authorize in the fabrication of Judd furniture.

“We deny that Ms. Kardashian has any liability in this matter, as we have previously explained to the Judd Foundation and its counsel,” said Michael Rhodes of Cooley LLP, counsel for Kim Kardashian, in an email. He did not answer questions about whether the celebrity misspoke in her video, or whether her legal team planned to either settle or file a motion to dismiss the case.

In comments to the Times, the design firm said the Judd Foundation had previously been “unwilling to settle on reasonable terms” even as it said the “claims absolutely have no merit.” The foundation has said that it wanted the video deleted, the furniture destroyed, and Kardashian to issue a public apology. But negotiations broke down ahead of the lawsuit being filed.

“This case is about protecting the intellectual property rights of Judd Foundation, including its trademarks and copyrights,” said Judd Foundation lawyer Megan K. Bannigan. “The existence and promotion of fake Donald Judd furniture harms both consumers and Judd Foundation.”

Amid the blowback over the Judd lawsuit, Kardashian shared on an Instagram story photos of work by Richard Serra, a sculptor and peer of Judd who died on March 26 at the age of 85.

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