Art Market

Jeff Koons was found guilty of plagiarism in French court.

Benjamin Sutton
Nov 9, 2018 4:29PM, via The Telegraph

Jeff Koons, Fait D'Hiver, 1988. Photo by Christine und Hagen Graf, via Flickr.

A French court found Jeff Koons guilty of plagiarism on Thursday, ordering the artist, his studio (Jeff Koons LLC), and the Centre Pompidou—which hosted his traveling retrospective in 2014–2015—to pay French advertising executive Franck Davidovici €135,000 ($154,000). The case revolved around Koons’s 1988 ceramic sculpture Fait d’Hiver, which Davidovici claimed plagiarized an advertisement he created for the French fashion brand Naf Naf.

The sculpture features the torso of a woman with short black hair reclining on a snow-like surface, while a pig with a small barrel tied around its neck stands nearby. Aside from added details—like a pair of penguins, or a collar of flowers on the pig—the Koons sculpture is very similar to the Naf Naf advertisement, which appeared in magazines in the mid-1980s. Koons produced four editions of Fait d’Hiver, according to the AFP, one of which sold for $4.3 million at Christie’s in 2007.

As part of the ruling, Koons’s studio was also ordered to pay Davidovici €11,000 ($12,500) for reproducing an image of the pig on the artist’s website, and €2,000 ($2,300) to French publisher Flammarion for including an image of the work in the Pompidou exhibition catalogue, according to The Art Newspaper. The artist, his studio, and the Pompidou were also ordered to cover Davidovici’s legal costs related to the case, totalling €70,000 ($79,900). The court did not go so far as to order the seizure of the sculpture, as Davidovici had requested.

Last year, a French court ruled against Koons in a case involving another work from his famous “Banality” series. In that case, Koons was found to have plagiarized a 1975 image by the late French photographer Jean-François Bauret in the creation of his 1988 sculpture Naked. He and the Pompidou were ordered to pay Bauret’s estate €40,000 ($47,000).

Benjamin Sutton
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019