Paris Court Finds Jeff Koons Guilty of Copyright Infringement

More than three years after advertising creative director Franck Davidovici sued Jeff Koons for copyright infringement, a Paris court has found the American artist guilty of plagiarizing a 1985 ad campaign, Fait d’hiver, by the French clothing label Naf Naf. Both the ad and Koons’s statue, which he produced in 1988, share the same name and feature a pig with a barrel of rum hanging from its neck nuzzling a woman lying in the snow. The latter was sold to the Prada Foundation for over $4 million in 2007.

Koons’s sculpture was shown at the 2011 Venice Biennale and reproduced in an exhibition catalogue for the artist’s 2014 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which is how Davidovici first learned of the piece. On Thursday, the court ordered Koons; his company, Jeff Koons LLC; the Centre Pompidou; and a book publisher to pay the ad director $170,000 for copyright infringement. According to The Telegraph, Koons’s company was also fined $12,500 for reproducing the image of the pig on the artist’s website, and the publishing house was fined $2,300 for selling a book containing images of the work.

Koons has faced similar suits in the past. Photographer Art Rogers sued Koons in 1988 over his use of Rogers’s photograph of a couple holding eight puppies for Koons’s sculpture String of Puppies, 1988. The case was settled privately. Koons was also convicted of copyright infringement last year for appropriating a French photographer’s work in the making of his sculpture Naked, 1988, which depicts two prepubescent figures holding flowers.   

The artist was also recently embroiled in another controversy in Paris, when it was announced that Bouquet of Tulips, his memorial sculpture intended to honor victims of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan theater attacks in Paris, would be installed on the lawn of the Petit Palais, near the Champs-Élysées. The sculpture has provoked considerable backlash from locals both for its location and for its $3.9 million price tag, which is to be paid for by the state.