The Paris’ Court of Appeal upheld the sentence of the artist Jeff Koons for counterfeiting

22/04/2021

The Paris’ Court of Appeal upheld the sentence of the artist Jeff Koons for counterfeiting

Ruling on appeal from a judgment of November the 8, 2018, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the sculpture "Fait d'hiver" by Jeff Koons, exhibited at the end of 2014 at the Pompidou Museum in Paris during a retrospective exhibition devoted to the American artist's work, infringed copyrights held on a photograph also titled "Fait d'hiver" and exhibited in the mid-eighties as part of an advertising campaign of the Naf Naf company.

Thereby, the Court of Appeal successively rejected the arguments brought by the famous artist and his rights management company, seeking in particular to benefit from the exception of parody, whereas according to the Court, nothing allowed the public to understand the reference to the pre-existing photograph and thus sense its parodic dimension, and then to demonstrate that Koons’ freedom of artistic expression should prevail over such prior rights.

Finally, judges emphasized that since Jeff Koons is an artist of major importance on the art market, he should have spontaneously sought consent from the author of the work that he would use as his source of inspiration.

CA Paris, 5, 1, 23 février 2021, n° 19/09059