The estate of the well known French photographer Jean-François Bauret is suing the American artist Jeff Koons for copying one of his best known images, for the 1988 sculpture titled Naked. The sculpture created in porcelain, is part of Koons’ “Banality” series and would have been on display in his current retrospective, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris had it not been damaged, when the exhibition moved from the Whitney in New York. It was however illustrated in the current catalogue which is where it was noticed by Bauret’s wife. Another similar work from the edition of three sold at Sotheby’s Auctioneers for $9 million in 2008.
Lawyers from the estate of Claude Bauret-Allard have sent a letter to Koons and to the Pompidou regarding the work which depicts a nude boy and girl. The lawyer, Stephanie Legrand, says that “her client did not receive a response to either inquiry”. The Centre Pompidou president Alain Seban did tell AFP that appropriation was a common tool used by contemporary artists.
This is the second time in two weeks that the Post Pop artist has been singled out for copyright infringement related to works at the Pompidou exhibition. On 17 December Mr Koons was under public scrutiny for plagiarising a 1985 advertisement used for promoting the French Clothing brand Naf Naf. The Frenchman, Franck Davidovici, who is credited for creating the original ad claimed in letters that Mr Koons’s 1988 sculpture Fait d’Hiver is derived from his work. Lawyers for Davidovici stated that his client would be “pursuing legal action against the artist”.
Fait d’Hiver has now been removed from the Koons retrospective, according to a Pompidou spokesperson. The owner of the sculpture had requested the piece be returned before the end of the show’s run in Paris. This is the 4th time that Koons has been charged with plagiarism from this particular series, which is based on a number of kitsch images from the 1980s. String of Puppies (1988) and Wild Boy and Puppy (1988) are the other sculptures in question. Jean-François Bauret 1932 – 2014 died in January. Appropriation: Where there’s money There’s a lawsuit!