American artist Jeff Koons is no stranger to controversy, let alone lawsuits. Adding to the long list of class action lawsuits against the famous American artist, The Art Newspaper reports that Koons is being accused of plagiarising an iconic French advertisement that ran in 1985 in one of his celebrated sculptures, Fait d’Hiver.
Franck Davidovici, the ad’s creative director, is suing Mr Koons in a Paris court for a hefty €300,000 for copyright infringement, claiming that Koons had produced a “servile copy” of the famous campaign that he created for French clothing brand Naf-Naf over 3 decades ago.
The advertisement that ran in 1985 depicted a lady with short black hair lying in the snow while being sniffed out by a baby pig with a barrel of rum around its neck. Mr Koon’s sculpture, which was acquired by the Prada Foundation for over $3.7 million at Christie’s New York in 2007, shows a bust of a woman lying in powdered snow with a pig and two baby penguins sniffing hanging around her head.
“It’s the same work in three dimensions, to which Jeff Koons has added flowers and a penguin to evoke cold, with the aim of sticking to the original work” said Mr Davidovici’s lawyer, Jean Aittouares, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Aittouares is fighting to have Koon’s piece confiscated, claiming that it “helped to make Jeff Koons who he is today – one of the most expensive contemporary artists in the world”.
Davidovici had first seen the sculpture in the catalogue for the artist’s 2014 show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. It was eventually removed from the exhibition at the request of the lender, however both the Pompidou and the Prada Foundation are being sued for reproducing images of the sculpture.
The president of the Centre Pompidou at the time, Alain Seban, was quoted defending Koons by saying that “the very principle of his Banality sculpture series is to draw on objects bought in shops or images seen in the press”. Adding to that, Koon’s lawyer, Emmanuel Baud, says that the artist is not denying that he drew inspiration from the Naf Naf advert, but “quite the contrary; this is his particular artistic approach,”
This is certainly not the first time Koons is accused of plagiarism and charged by Parisian courts. Only last year, a Paris court ordered Jeff Koons LLC, to pay the estate of the late French photographer Jean-Francois Bauret €40,000 affirming that Naked, Koon’s 1988 sculpture of two naked children, was indeed copying Mr Bauret’s 1975 picture, entitled Enfants.
Davidovici’s case is expected to be made on the 8th of November by the Paris district Court.