Empire State Building Group Drops $1.1 Million Lawsuit Against Topless Photo Shoot

The Empire State Building. Photo: Alamy.
The Empire State Building. Photo: Alamy.
Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).  Photo: Allen Henson.

Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).
Photo: Allen Henson.

ESRT Empire State Building LLC dropped its $1.1 million lawsuit against photographer Allen Henson over his 2013 nude photo shoot atop the famous New York skyscraper. In exchange, Henson agrees to never enter the Empire State Building again.

“This is a victory for artists, a victory for women, this is a victory for New York,” the 31-year-old Iraq War veteran told Gothamist.

It’s not exactly a victory for the growing Free the Nipple movement, however. Henson’s lifetime building ban ensures that he can’t shoot topless photos there ever again, and the arrangement also prohibits anyone “acting in concert” with the photographer from visiting the premises.

Prior to the settlement, Henson had indicated a desire to restage his racy Empire State Building shoot. “CASTING: looking for a model who isn’t afraid of heights in NYC,” he wrote on Facebook in June.

Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).  Photo: Allen Henson.

Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).
Photo: Allen Henson.

In the original complaint, the building maintained that Henson “intentionally violated rules of the Observatory, intentionally engaged in unauthorized, objectionable, and inappropriate conduct in full view of ESB’s customers, tenants, visitors, including families with children, and employees, and caused ESB to suffer economic losses and damage to its reputation.”

The building management in a statement: “The Empire State Building is private property and will always enforce the rules governing all building visitors, which are designed to ensure a safe, family-friendly experience for everyone.”

Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).  Photo: Allen Henson.

Allen Henson, Empire State Building topless photo shoot (2013).
Photo: Allen Henson.

“It’s embarrassing for America,” Henson responded to Gothamist. “They are saying breasts have made their building unsafe?!”

While the Empire State Building sought $100,000 in economic losses and $1 million in punitive damages, Henson retaliated and filed a $5 million countersuit.

“The approximately 30 suicide attempts from the Observation Deck . . . are the cause of any damage to ESB’s business and reputation,” Henson argued in the countersuit, noting that he was not approached by building employees during the photo shoot, and left the premises voluntarily.

The photo shoot is part of Henson’s “Boobs Around Town” series, which has models bare their breasts in sushi restaurants, the Central Park rowboats, and even for a quick photo op with the NYPD.

According to the Post, Henson plans to issue limited edition prints of the 2013 Empire State Building photos.

Allen Henson, New York Supreme Court topless photo shoot (2015).  Photo: Allen Henson.

Allen Henson, New York Supreme Court topless photo shoot (2015).
Photo: Allen Henson.

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