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*A work from Jeff Koons’s 1989 “Made in Heaven” series. Photo: Amaury Laporte/Flickr.
*A work from Jeff Koons’s 1989 “Made in Heaven” series. Photo: Amaury Laporte/Flickr.

Jeff Koons Sued Over “Made in Heaven” Series

Jeff Koons has been accused of incorporating without approval another artist’s sculpture in several works from his controversial 1989 “Made in Heaven” series. Artist Michael Hayden earlier this month filed suit in New York’s Southern District Court, claiming that Koons appropriated a work he made in two paintings and a sculpture. Hayden created the work, a sculpture featuring a serpent and a rock slab, as a stage prop for politician Ilona Staller. The work is depicted in the cited works as a support for the amorous interactions of Staller (formerly known as the porn star Cicciolina) and Koons, who were married for a brief time in the early 1990s.

Hayden says he was unaware that Koons featured the serpent-and-rock sculpture in his own work, and that he saw the “Made in Heaven” series for the first time in 2019, when it appeared in an Italian news article. At issue apart from Koons’s alleged failure to ask for permission to use the work is his apparent failure to credit Hayden.

“We believe this is a massive violation of Mr. Hayden's rights as an artist, and Mr. Hayden looks forward to presenting his case to the Court,” said Hayden’s lawyer, Jordan Fletcher, in an email to Reuters. Fletcher in 2015 successfully represented photographer Mitchel Gray, who accused Koons of mimicking in his own work a photo Gray took for a gin ad.

Besides seeking monetary damages, Fletcher whose suit alleges “blatant, unlawful and worldwide infringement” on Koons’s part, is asking to have Koons blocked from selling or reproducing the works featuring his sculpture and to be credited as an author of the contended works.

Koons has in recent years been plagued with lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, in 2018 being found guilty of plagiarizing a 1985 ad campaign, Fait d’hiver, by the French clothing label Naf Naf.