A Paris appeals court has announced to uphold a 2017 ruling which found Jeff Koons guilty of plagiarism. It determined that his work, Naked, was in fact copying a photograph of two naked children, titled Enfants, by the late French photographer Jean-François Bauret. The sculpture made by Koons in 1988 featured the same boy and girl holding flowers from Bauret’s image from 1975.
According to the Associated Press, the court this week stood by the ruling from two years ago and decided that the artist’s company, Jeff Koons LLC, as well as the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where his work was due to be exhibited, must together pay €20,000 to Bauret’s family.
Koons’s studio must compensate the family an additional $4,000 for using a picture of the sculpture on their website. Stephanie Legrand, the lawyer representing Bauret’s descendants, said: “The continued use of his image in France is banned by the court, which is a great success for my clients.”
Koons has a long history of plagiarism accusations, but he says that he is simply an appropriation artist.
His ‘Naked’ sculpture was set to have been shown in a major Jeff Koons retrospective at the Pompidou Centre from November 2014 to April 2015 but it never made it to the show as it was reportedly damaged during transport. Images of the work were reproduced however and used in advertising and media reports. The court still found the Centre Pompidou culpable for the copyright infringement because the institution reproduced pictures of the work in advertisements and for its marketing campaign for the show.
The sculpture, which stands a little over one metre, shows a little boy offering flowers to a young girl. A copy of the work sold for $8 million in 2008. In 2018 a Paris court found that Koons had copied a 1980s advertisement for clothing chain Naf Naf in his 1988 ‘Fait d’Hiver’, also part of the Banality Series, which shows a pig standing over a woman lying on her back.