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Elderly Woman Solves Crossword Puzzle Artwork, Then Claims to Own the Copyright

According to Glyn Moody of Ars Technica UK, a ninety-year-old German woman filled out Fluxus artist Arthur Köpcke’s crossword-puzzle work during her visit to Nuremberg’s Neues Museum and is claiming that she is now a collaborator on the work and therefore holds the copyright.

Identified as Hannelore K., the puzzle-solver accused of vandalism by the museum said that she began to fill in the answers to the 1977 work that depicts a crossword puzzle because it instructed her to do so. The $89,000 artwork features English phrases such as “Insert words.” The retiree said if the museum didn’t want people to listen to the artist then they should have posted signs.

The institution has since removed the work from the exhibition and restored it to its original state. However, Hannelore K. believes her addition to the piece was in the spirit of the Fluxus art movement. She consulted a lawyer, who then wrote a seven-page brief arguing that, rather than having damaged the work, Hannelore K. had increased its value. The brief also declared that her addition to the piece gives her a copyright claim on the artwork and that, if she wishes, she could sue the museum. The art was on loan to the institution from a private collector.