Jeff Koons Sued Yet Again Over Copyright Infringement

The auction house Phillips has also been sued as part of the same case.

Jeff Koons with Split-Rocker at Rockefeller Center in 2014. Courtesy of J Grassi/ Patrick McMullan
Jeff Koons with Split-Rocker at Rockefeller Center in 2014. Courtesy of J Grassi/Patrick McMullan.

Jeff Koons is in trouble over copyright infringement, yet again. On Monday, New York photographer Mitchel Gray filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court over Koons’ 1986 artwork I Could Go For Something Gordon’s, from his series “Luxury & Degradation.”

Gray claimed that Koons used his original 1986 photograph—which depicts a woman painting on the beach, with a man sitting beside her—“nearly unchanged and in its entirety” to create his I Could Go For Something Gordon’s piece.

Jeff Koons I Could Go For Something Gordon's (1986) Photo: Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, I Could Go For Something Gordon’s (1986).
Photo:  via jeffkoons.com

According to Reuters, the photographer alleges that Koons used the image without his permission after the campaign ran in 1986. Two editions and one artist’s proof were produced.

Besides Koons, Gray is also suing the auction house Phillips, which—according to the New York Post—sold the artist’s proof in 2008 in London for $2.04 million, as well as the unnamed former owner of the work.

See Experts Weight In on the Jeff Koons Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

According to the complaint, Gray took almost 30 years to file the suit because he only discovered Koons’ plagiarism this past July. Gray’s attorney said the case falls within the three-year statute of limitation on copyright actions, which only starts counting when “the plaintiff learns of the infringement.”

The photographer is seeking unspecified damages, plus any profits made by the defendants as a result of the alleged copyright infringement.

Photographer Mitchel Gray claims the artist violated his copyright. Photo: Mitchel Gray via Facebook

Photographer Mitchel Gray claims Jeff Koons infringed his copyright.
Photo: Mitchel Gray via Facebook.

Gray’s lawsuit stressed that Koons “knew, or should have known, that he was required to obtain an artist’s permission before he could lawfully copy a work by that artist.”

Meanwhile, Phillips spokesman Michael Sherman told Reuters via email: “We are confident that Phillips has no liability in this matter.”

Koons has been at the center of several copyright infringement cases over the years. In 1992, he lost a case over his sculpture String of Puppies (1988). In 1993, he lost again in a case over the appropriation of the Garfield character “Odie” in Wild Boy and Puppy (1988).

Koons was found guilty of plagiarism for copying a photographer for his sculpture String of Puppies (1988) Photo: cpyrightvisualarts.wordpress.com

Koons was found guilty of plagiarism in 1992 for copying a photographer’s image in his sculpture String of Puppies (1988).
Photo: via cpyrightvisualarts.wordpress.com

In 2006, he won a case brought against him by fashion photographer Andrea Blanch, over his use of her image featuring the feet of four women wearing Gucci sandals in his work Niagara (2000).

In December 2014, Koons was sued twice within two weeks, first over his work Fait d’Hiver (1988)—which French advertising executive Franck Davidovici claimed Koons copied from a 1985 advertisement for a French clothing brand—and then by the wife of photographer Jean-François Bauret over the illegal use of her husbands’s work in Koons’ sculpture Naked (1988).


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