Artist Ida Ekblad in front of the Birkenstock advertising poster she found in Berlin and incorporated into her artwork.

Birkenstock CEO Loses Lawsuit Brought Against Kunsthaus Hamburg and Artist Ida Ekblad

Henri Neuendorf of Artnet reports that Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert has lost the lawsuit he brought against the Kunsthaus Hamburg and the Norwegian artist Ida Ekblad over an image featuring his six-year-old daughter, which the artist appropriated for one of her works. Last Thursday, a Hamburg court lifted an injunction forbidding the museum from showing the piece. The exhibition that included the artwork in question has ended, but the ruling means that Ekblad and the institution may show the work in the future.

In March, the Reichert family obtained a court order forcing the museum to take down the artwork that incorporated the image of the girl, which the artist sourced from an ad for the German sandal manufacturer. Ekblad says she used the picture because it reminded her of how she looked as a child. The girl’s parents said they feared that they would lose control over their daughter’s image rights. After the injunction was filed, the Kunsthaus Hamburg was forced to close for two days while the artist replaced the image of Reichert’s daughter with a childhood representation of herself.

In the ruling, the judge explained that the Reicherts’ concerns over their daughter’s privacy and personal rights were unfounded, as they had “been willing to present [their daughter] to a very large audience” already via her inclusion in two Birkenstock ads. In a separate copyright lawsuit brought against Ekblad by the photographer who took the original image, Anders Overgaard, the Hamburg higher regional court ruled on July 4 that the artist’s use of the ad doesn’t infringe his copyrights or moral rights and is permissible under the constitutional right of artistic freedom. The executive director of the Kunsthaus Hamburg told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the rulings are “a positive signal for artistic freedom.”