The artist must pay nearly $170,000 to the creator of a 1985 ad campaign that he copied for the 1988 statue, “Fait d’hiver.” This is just one of five copyright infringement lawsuits from the artist’s Banality series.
Appropriation is increasingly becoming a legal matter rather than an artistic one, in large part because Jeff Koons keeps finding himself as the subject of plagiarism lawsuits.
On Thursday, a Parisian court ordered Koons, alongside his personal company, the Pompidou Centre, and a book publisher, to jointly pay nearly $170,000 for breach of copyright and damages. The money will go to Franck Davidovici, the creator of a 1985 advertisement for the clothing company Naf Naf. The ad shares its name — and a multitude of similarities — with Koon’s 1988 statue, “Fait d’hiver.” The aggrieved party had originally asked for around $352,000 in damages.
Although the sculpture has been kicking around for the last 30 years, Davidovici only noticed the piece’s striking resemblance to his own work in a catalogue for the Centre Pompidou’s 2014 Koons retrospective. He sued for copyright infringement in January 2015 and even tried to have the work seized. Four years later, he won his case before France’s legal system.