French Court Hits Jeff Koons, Pompidou with $46,500 Fine for ‘Counterfeiting’

Jeff Koons Naked, 1988 JEFFKOONS.COM

Jeff Koons, Naked, 1988.


Today, Art Market Monitor (via Le Monde) reports that a French court has ruled in favor of the estate of the photographer Jean-François Bauret in a plagiarism case against the American artist Jeff Koons. Heirs to the now-deceased artist successfully argued that the 1988 Koons piece Naked is a contrefaçon (or “counterfeit”) of a 1975 photograph by Bauret, who was known for his nude portraits.

Le Monde says that Jeff Koons LLC and the Centre Pompidou, which hosted the artist’s retrospective in France, will have to pay €20,000 (about $21,200) in damages to the heirs, as well as €20,000 for their legal costs, and that Koons LLC will have to pay an additional €4,000 ($4,230) for posting the image on the artist’s website.

Naked is part of the artist’s “Banality” series, which also includes the work String of Puppies, itself the subject of a lawsuit by the professional photographer Art Rogers. The photographer claimed the piece was ripped from his very similar picture Puppies. The 1991 case went to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and resulted in a large monetary settlement for Rogers, who also now owns one of the four existing String of Puppies. Over the past three decades, there have been a total of four separate lawsuits surrounding the “Banality” series alone.

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