A German Court Rules That Martin Kippenberger’s Estate Must Name a Painter Who Executed His Works as a Co-Author

Kippenberger's estate plans to appeal the court's decision, having disputed its definition of "artistic creativity."

Paris Bar by Martin Kippenberger. Photo by Ian West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

A German court has ruled that the Berlin-based artist Götz Valien is now officially a co-author of two “Paris Bar” paintings that had previously been attributed to Martin Kippenberger. Completed in the early 1990s, they depict the interior of Berlin’s legendary Paris Bar, a hotspot for rising art world stars where Kippenberger was a regular.

In a lawsuit filed against Kippenberger’s estate last year, Valien pointed out that he was hired to make the works by the advertising company Werner-Werbung, which Kippenberger had hired to make a painting from photos of an exhibition he had staged at the bar. The painting would show the interior complete with artworks by Kippenberger’s friends hanging on the wall.

The first version was finished in 1992 and a second was made in 1993, after the first was sent to be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou. These were both signed by and officially attributed to Kippenberger despite being executed by Valien. A third and final version was made in 2010, long after Kippenberger’s death, in 1997, but this version was already solely credited to Valien.

The Munich Regional Court’s decision, which was reached on Monday, rested on the differences between the original photo from which Valien worked and his own, livelier interpretation of the scene, which was believed to be evidence of artistic license, even if the original concept for the paintings was clearly Kippenberger’s.

“When creating the paintings, the plaintiff had enough leeway for his own creative work,” the decision read, according to Monopol.

As a result of the decision, Kippenberger’s estate must now name Valien alongside Kippenberger as a co-author of the two versions from 1992 and 1993. Valien will also name Kippenberger as a co-author of his more recent 2010 version.

“The judgment fails to acknowledge the essence of artistic creativity,” Kippenberger’s estate said in a statement to Artnet News. “We will therefore appeal.”

It is not yet known what the financial implications of this change will be but, like Kippenberger’s other works, the paintings are highly valued. The first version sold for nearly £2.3 million (just over $3.7 million) at Christie’s in 2009, while French billionaire François Pinault bought the second was bought for £600,000 ($1.2 million) in 2007.

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