Artist Koons sued for copyright infringement at Paris exhibition

American artist Jeff Koons.
American artist Jeff Koons. Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Paris-based publicist Franck Davidovici is accusing American contemporary artist Jeff Koons of unlawfully copying a 1985 advertisement in a work on display in the French capital, the plaintiff's lawyer said Wednesday.


A French bailiff joined last Thursday's crowd at the artist's retrospective at Paris's Pompidou Centre to seize documents and take photos from several angles of the artwork.

Titled Fait d'Hiver, the porcelain work depicts a scantily dressed woman lying on her back in the snow with a pig and two penguins standing beside her.

Davidovici claims the work resembles an image of his own 1985 publicity campaign for the women's ready-to-wear collection for clothing brand Naf Naf.

His lawyer, Jean Aittouares, confirmed "legal action" was underway, without giving any details.

Created in 1988 as part of Koons's Banality series, Fait d'Hiver is described in its original catalogue as a "Walt Disney version of an erotic fantasy" that "identifies a primal hunger at the heart of American consumerism".

Koons based the portrayal of the woman on Italian porn actress Ilona Staller, paving the way for a professional collaboration and a short-lived marriage.

Four copies exist, including the one at the Pompidou show, which sold for around three million euros at a New York auction in 2007.

American judges have previously ruled that several other sculptures from the Banality series have broken copyright laws, rejecting Koons's claims of fair use by parody.


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