Neil Winokur, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982, cibachrome print, 20 x 16”. © Neil Winokur, courtesy Janet Borden, Inc., NY

Artist Files $65 Million Lawsuit Over Robert Mapplethorpe Photos

Artist and performance poet Bobby Miller is suing the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, as well as several galleries and museums, for a total of sixty-five million dollars, according to the New York Post’s Lia Eustachewich and Danika Fears. His claim? That images he shot of Mapplethorpe have been presented for decades without his permission.

In his lawsuit, Miller took the photographs of Mapplethorpe dressed in drag in November 1979. Mapplethorpe offered to have an assistant develop the film, but never turned over the photos. Now, asserting that the famous photographer’s foundation “has misrepresented and continues to misrepresent the Miller images to be the work of Robert Mapplethorpe as ‘self-portraits,’” Miller claims that his “exclusive rights” to the images are being violated.

The Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Skarstedt Gallery, and Sean Kelly Gallery are all named as entities that have exhibited the photos without permission. Miller is asking for forty-five million dollars from the Mapplethorpe Foundation, and the additional twenty million dollars from the galleries and museums named in the suit.