Film producer David Weisman and Edie Sedgwick’s widower Michael Post are locked in a bitter legal battle over the image rights of the late Warhol superstar, Courthouse News reports.
Weisman included Sedgwick in his first film, Ciao! Manhattan (1972), a fictionalized account of the perturbed heiress-cum-Factory-icon’s life. Weisman claims that the actress gave him “all use of her name, likeness, image, and identity for commercial purposes” when she signed her contract in 1970.
The agreement gained a new relevance after the release of Factory Girl (2006), a feature film narrating the rise and fall of the American socialite, which put Sedgwick back center stage.
Capitalizing on the late actress’s newfound mainstream appeal, Weisman licensed images of Sedgwick to the American clothing giant Urban Outfitters. Claiming to be Sedgwick’s “successor-in-interest,” her husband, Post, also sold pictures of his late wife. In his case the images were sold to a Japanese design company planning to use photos of the star on their line.
Weisman vehemently contested Post’s right to do so. The case went to a judge last September, who, while ruling that Weisman did own the rights to Sedgwick’s image associated with Ciao! Manhattan, left it to the state court to decide whether or not these extended beyond the film.
The lawsuit filed by Weisman’s attorney James Ballantine in Santa Barbara County Court on October 24 contends “Post has no rights in the name, likeness, image, or identity of Sedgwick, as successor-in-interest to Edith Sedgwick.” According to Courthouse News, the film producer is seeking damages and injunctive relief, arguing that he has “continued to be the sole proprietor of all right, title, and interest in the Publicity Rights of Edith Sedgwick.”
The daughter of a prominent Massachusetts family, Sedgwick was born in Santa Barbara in 1943. She grew up in California and moved to New York in 1964, already weakened by eating disorders and a history of drug abuse.
Sedgwick met Andy Warhol at a dinner party in 1965 and she quickly became a key figure of the Pop artist’s entourage. She starred in 12 of his films, including Vinyl, The Poor Little Rich Girl, and Chelsea Girls. During her days at The Factory, she developed a distinctive style, characterized by her pixie haircut, heavy eye makeup, and dangling earrings.
The relationship with Warhol soon soured, though. Shortly after, Sedwick embarked in an ill-fated affair with Bob Dylan (which he has always denied). As her mental health continued to deteriorate, she moved back to California, where she met Post in the psychiatric ward of the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. They married in July 1971. Sedgwick died of drug and alcohol overdose a few months later.
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