Gagosian sued for copyright infringement

A show featuring furniture designed by the late Austrian artist Franz West at the Gagosian Gallery in New York has gone ahead, despite a lawsuit bought against the gallery.

The Vienna-based Franz West archive filed a copyright lawsuit against Gagosian Gallery on September 4th. The complaint says that the archive has the “exclusive license to produce and sell certain furniture works” designed by Franz West, as well as “a separate exclusive license to make, use, and exploit any and all photographs of all works of art created by West during his lifetime.” It accuses Gagosian of violating its “exclusive licences” and the “foreign copyrights to which they relate” by conducting an exhibition and sale of West’s work, and seeks to stall it, and recover damages. They accuse the gallery of planning to sell an “unauthorized” version of West’s work.

But one day before the opening a US district court judge declined their calls to suspend the show. The opposition attorney called the lawsuit “improper”, citing a struggle between the archive and another entity known as the Franz West Privatstiftung, a private foundation established by the artist in 2012.

“The Archive’s dispute here is not with Gagosian Gallery, but with the Foundation,” the opposition papers detail. “Gagosian Gallery does not manufacture any Furniture, and it is selling the Furniture only in its capacity as the Foundation’s consignee.”

According to artnet news the case is still open.

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