Second Plagiarism Claim Against Jeff Koons in Two Weeks

The first controversial work has already been pulled from Koons's current show.

Jeff Koons interview.
Jeff Koons interview.
Koons-Split-Rocker-June-2014

Jeff Koons
Photo: Aaron Sherman

The wife of photographer Jean-François Bauret has accused Jeff Koons of copying one of her husband’s works for the sculpture Naked (1988). Bauret died in January 2014 and was particularly known for his nudes.

The sculpture is an edition of three and part of Koons’s “Banality” series. It is included in the catalogue for his current retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. However, according to the museum, it was not placed on view in the show due to slight damage it experienced during transport. An edition of the work sold at Sotheby’s New York for $9 million in May 2008, according to the artnet Price Database.

The photographer’s wife, Claude Bauret-Allard, sent a letter to Koons regarding his alleged plagiarism of her husband’s photo of a naked boy and girl one week before the exhibition opened, according to statements made by her lawyer to the AFP. Bauret-Allard, who is a painter herself, subsequently sent a similar letter to the Centre Pompidou. The lawyer, Stephanie Legrand, says that her client did not receive a response to either inquiry. Centre Pompidou president Alain Seban did tell the AFP that appropriation was a common tool used by contemporary artists.

Jeff Koons, Naked (1988) Via: artnet Price Database

Jeff Koons, Naked (1988)
Via: artnet Price Database

It marks the second time in two weeks that the American artist has been called out for copyright infringement for a work related to the Pompidou exhibition (see “Jeff Koons Sued for Plagiarism“). On December 17, Koons was accused of plagiarizing a 1985 advertisement for French Clothing brand Naf Naf. Franck Davidovici, the Frenchman who created the ad in question, has claimed that Koons’s sculpture Fait d’Hiver (1988) is a copy of his work. His lawyer said that his client would be pursuing legal action against the artist.

Following the accusations, Fait d’Hiver (1988) was removed from Koons’s retrospective last Tuesday. According to the museum, the sculpture’s owners requested it be removed for unspecified reasons. Several recent instances of vandalism against artworks in France (see “Vandalized Paul McCarthy Butt Plug Pulled from Paris Square” and “Thug Who Punched $10 Million Monet Painting Convicted“) could have contributed to their decision to pull the $4.3 million sculpture from public view.

The case marks the fourth time that someone has publicly accused Koons of copyright infringement for a work from his “Banality” series. In both cases, which have thus far gone to court,the accuser has prevailed; String of Puppies (1988) and Wild Boy and Puppy (1988) were the artworks concerned.

Koons was also sued over a painting, Niagra (2000), a portion of which appropriated an image by fashion photographer Andrea Blanch. However, Koons won that case.

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