Over the past couple decades, Jeff Koons has been the subject of several plagiarism lawsuits, which have often ended with the appropriation-minded artist paying out damages. Now, following an appeal, yet another suit has concluded with Koons being held responsible for plagiarizing an image from another artist’s work.
An appeals court in Paris ruled last week that Koons’s 1988 sculpture Naked plagiarized an image taken from a photograph of two nude children taken by Jean-François Bauret, Agence France-Presse reported. The decision upholds one made by a French court in 2017. Koons and the Pompidou had previously argued that such instances of artistic appropriation are now common.
Through the decision, Koons’s studio and the Centre Pompidou in Paris—where Naked was to appear in a retrospective that opened in 2014—must pay €20,000 (about $22,200) to the late photographer’s family, and Koons’s studio must pay €4,000 ($4,400) to the family for reproducing an image of the sculpture on his website.
Gagosian gallery, which represents Koons, and the Centre Pompidou did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Stephanie Legrand, a lawyer for the Bauret family, told the AFP, “The continued use of his image in France is banned by the court, which is a great success for my clients.”
Naked is part of Koons’s “Banality” series, one of the artist’s most iconic bodies of work. When Koons’s retrospective debuted at the Whitney Museum in New York in 2014, the work was included alongside other “Banality” works, which resemble tchotchkes and are intended to question which objects are considered high art. The work did not appear at the Centre Pompidou presentation of the retrospective; the Paris museum said at the time that damage the work suffered mid-transit kept it out of the French version of the show, not the copyright infringement claims.
The Naked case is far from the only plagiarism suit Koons has faced recently. In total, works from “Banality” have been the subject of five lawsuits, with three of them having ended with Koons having to pay money to people whose work he was accused of plagiarizing and a fourth ending in a settlement.
The plagiarism accusations have extended beyond the “Banality” series, however: in 2018, a French court ruled against Koons in a case brought against him by the French clothing brand Naf Naf, which alleged that he had copied its advertising for one of his sculptures.
Koons’s studio is still facing another legal battle—a lawsuit brought against it and Gagosian gallery by Steven A. Tananbaum, who alleges that both entities failed to deliver three works by the artist that he had contracted to purchase and begun paying installments on.