Libby’s Canned-Food Company Settles Its Beef With Libbie Mugrabi, Blue Origin Will Send NFT Artists to Space, And More Juicy Art-World Gossip
Plus, which art exhibition was Kanye banned from? And which art-world figure showed up on stage with Pink Floyd? Read on for answers.
Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].
CANNED HEAT: WHY LIBBIE MUGRABI’S COMPANY HAD TO CHANGE ITS NAME
You’ve gotta admire Libbie Mugrabi’s dedication. The highly litigious ex-wife of mega-collector David Mugrabi is a regular in New York City’s court system, whether it’s because she’s dealing with her extremely expensive divorce, or—*checks notes*—responding to copyright infringement claims from a canned fruit company.
That’s right, the latest legal thorn in Libbie’s side comes from Libby’s, the similarly named food company which is best known for its canned pumpkin and Vienna sausages. (We did look for an image of the products to include here, but the only Creative Commons options available are of the sausages and—it’s better for both of us if you Google that yourself.) The socialite had been using the brand’s former canned pineapple factory in Maui, Hawaii to produce her line of accessories under the label Libbielove, selling “Divorcée Glam” trucker hats for $125 a pop (a steal!).
According to the canned goods company’s lawsuit: “Libbie’s use of a confusingly similar imitation of the trademark of Libby’s Brand is likely to cause confusion, deception, and mistake by creating the false and misleading impression that Libbie’s Products are manufactured or distributed by Libby’s Brand, or are affiliated, connected, or associated with Libby’s Brand, or have the sponsorship, endorsement, or approval of Libby’s Brand.”
Page Six reported that the company was seeking “injunctive relief and to recover Libbie’s profits, actual damages, enhanced profits and damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.” Hell hath no fury like a cannery scorned.
Based on the most recent court documents, Libbie’s lawyers withdrew themselves from the case due to “irreconcilable differences” (ouch) and her deadline to find new counsel has already passed. So I gave Mugrabi a ring to see where things stand.
As it turns out, she settled the case out of court and ultimately agreed to change the name of her business. “The name of the company was Libbie LLC, but I’ve renamed it to L’Scher, which is my first initial, with an apostrophe, and my maiden name, which means ‘very expensive’ in French,” she told me while boarding a plane to Los Angeles. Chic!
She added that she is able to keep the name Libbielove in the U.K., and that her label’s website still needs to be updated with the new name. She also clarified that she has no plans to change her own name from Mugrabi back to her maiden name, “because of the children.”
While I had her on the horn, I checked in to see if there were any updates on her bid to re-open her divorce suit with David Mugrabi, which she filed around this time last summer. Libbie told me there were no new updates, bemoaning that “the court system in New York is very subpar.”
Libbie’s dissatisfaction with her previous divorce settlement stems from her split of the couple’s art collection, estimated to be worth around $5 billion in toto. Libbie was meant to receive works worth at least $16 million, including pieces by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, but these reportedly arrived damaged. She also claimed that she signed the last divorce agreement “under duress” and that the final document was “substantially different” than the approved draft she had seen earlier, telling Wet Paint: “I was tricked into signing a different agreement during COVID lockdown. I never actually read it.”
“It’s very frustrating, the court system in New York,” she added. “I find it very abusive to women. It seems like the only ones who win are the lawyers and possibly the judges.” Perhaps that’s why Libbie decided to represent herself in the new divorce claims, after her lawyer withdrew from the case.
Despite these legal battles, Libbie maintains a positive outlook. “I have to just believe one thing, which is that the best is yet to come.”
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A BORED APE
It’s been a tough few weeks for our friends in the crypto community. These poor kids are dealing with plunging valuations on their NFTs, an unforgiving bear market, celebrities ditching them, and whatever this was. There is some good news on the horizon, though: apparently, Jeff Bezos’s commercial aerospace company Blue Origin is sending five NFT artists to space next April. The future launch is part of the project Uplift Aerospace, which recently sent a triptych by Amoako Boafo off into the final frontier.
The news came out at the NFT.NYC conference in Times Square this week, as artist and astronautics professor Mike Mungo informed an audience that he had recently been to fittings for his spacesuit. Mungo was part of the design team behind Shepard Fairey’s OBEY project back in the day and got his start in the crypto world in 2017, long before NFTs were a thing, with a project called “Cryptotitties” (I mean, you’ve gotta respect all the shapes and sizes represented). Mungo told the NFT conference’s audience that he is set to embark on his space race in April of 2023 with his crypto-cohort. (Blue Origin hasn’t responded to our requests to confirm the new project, but let’s just roll with it.)
“This is how we get to the future that we want, a future that is just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive,” Mungo told me after the talk. And just as I realized that those four words together form the acronym “JEDI,” he continued: “Web3 is that. Everything else that is Web2 is scarcity mindset.”
His comments might seem totally random, but to be fair, the talk he spoke at was called “How NFTs Have Fundamentally Reshaped the Way Creators Launch and Build Valuable Communities,” and much of Mungo’s discussion was about how inclusive the NFT community is. Apparently, the project originally was only going to take one artist up into space, but “when they saw how the finalists were showing up for each other,” Mungo said, “they decided that all five of us should be on the ship.”
So there you have it, folks. Maybe NFTs were never about amassing vast wealth, and they really were always about the friends you make along the way.
Issy Wood has disappeared from downtown gallery JTT’s website … Disgraced former dealer Andy Valmorbida showed up in New York this weekend to throw a party at Musica in Hell’s Kitchen … Kanye West has been banned from the late Virgil Abloh’s opening at the Brooklyn Museum next week … Downtown scenester Soph Vanderbilt is suing NFT platform Milady … Auctioneer Tobias Meyer went up on stage with Pink Floyd in Los Angeles this past weekend for the performance of their song “Money,” how perfect … P.P.O.W. is opening up their unfinished basement this weekend for a group show curated by Corey Durbin …
*** Chloë Sevigny paid a visit to the Museum of Modern Art this weekend *** Titus Kaphar hung out with TikTok art star Devon Rodriguez at Soho House New York after the premiere of Kaphar’s new film, Shut Up and Paint with UTA*** Lucien Smith popped up at a “Women in Crypto” brunch hosted by Web3 marketplace Lobus, for which he serves as an advisor *** Dealer Susie Kravets and collector Melissa Neumann hosted a brunch for women in the arts, including New Museum’s deputy director Isolde Brielmaier and collectors Zoe Dictrow and Leslie Weissman, at Neumann’s art-filled Upper West Side townhouse, stacked with work by Ashley Bickerton, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse *** Leonardo DiCaprio, Elena Soboleva, Anna Khachiyan, and eventually, Gigi Hadid were at Nahmad Contemporary for the opening and afterparty of the gallery’s new group show, “The Painter’s New Tools,” curated by Eleanor Cayre and Dean Kissick ***
WET PAINT QUESTIONNAIRE
Sports and art have more in common that one might think! Certainly writer Ben Detrick and artist Andrew Kuo know that more than anyone, as the two have pretty much written a book about it. When prompted about their favorite moments in art/sports crossover, Kuo volunteered “Pirate Jenny,” Paul Pfeiffer’s basketball-oriented show at Gagosian in 2004, and Detrick pointed to an anecdote about a former player who sold a painting of Scarface to former NBA commissioner David Stern.
My next question: What is the most overrated art-world summer destination? Write in your response to [email protected].
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