Jeff Koons and Centre Pompidou Lose Copyright Infringement Case

This is not the first time Koons has been sued and lost.

Jeff Koons.Photo: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan.
Jeff Koons.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

A French court has found Jeff Koons and the Centre Pompidou in Paris guilty of plagiarism in a legal dispute over the artist’s work Naked (1988), part of Koons’s Banality series.

The judge ruled in favor of the family of the late French photographer Jean-François Bauret, whose widow brought a case against Koons for copying his work, and against the museum for using an image of the work in the advertising material for their Koons retrospective in 2014.

The court found that the statue, which depicts two nude children, one handing the other a bunch of flowers, with some flowers strewn at their feet, was recognizable as being taken from Bauret’s photograph Enfants (1970.)

Jeff Koons LCC and the Centre Pompidou were ordered to pay Bauret’s heirs €40,000 ($42,445), half of which goes towards their legal costs, and €4,000 ($4,245) for using an image of Naked on Koons’s website.

The Guardian reports that Bauret’s widow, Claude Bauret-Allard, told French magazine Télérama that she was shocked to discover the similarities between Koons’s statue and her late husband’s photograph, which was turned into a postcard after it was taken in 1975.

Jeff Koons<i>Naked</i>. Courtesy jeffkoons.com

Jeff Koons Naked. Courtesy jeffkoons.com

“I met a curator of contemporary photography at the French National Library to talk about donating some photos and she showed me all the shots my husband had done that they had already … luckily, this one [Enfants] was in the 1971 collection, so there was a trace of it,” she revealed. “Koons reproduced the photo and added the bouquet in order to sexualize the scene: he admitted himself the phallic dimension of this object,” she added.

Bauret-Allard contacted both Koons and the Centre Pompidou ahead of the exhibition but received no response from either the artist, or the museum.

This is not the first time that Koons had legal action taken against him regarding copyright and appropriation in works from his Banality series. He was successfully sued by photographer Art Rogers due to similarities between String of Puppies (1988) and Rogers’s photograph.

In 2014, Koons lost another case over his work, Fait d’Hiver (1988) which was found to have been copied from a French advertisement, but won a similar case against photographer Andrea Blanch who claimed he had copied her work for his 2000 work Niagara.


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