For the second time since last year, the artist Jeff Koons He has been condemned this week for plagiarizing in his sculpture, Fait d'hiver (1988) an advertisement for the Naf-Naf clothing brand of 1985. The Paris Grand Court on Thursday condemned the artist, the company that bears his name and Pompidou Center from Paris, where the work was exhibited in a large retrospective organized in 2014, to pay 135,000 euros to the artistic director who designed that advertising, Frank Davidovici. The plaintiff discovered the work four years ago when he visited the exhibition of the Pompidou and had demanded, in addition to a compensation of 300,000 euros, that the work was requisitioned. Despite the conviction, the judge did not consent to that request.
The work of Koons retakes the advertising image, where a woman appears stretched in the snow after an avalanche with a pig, the animal identifying the brand, coming to her aid with the barrel of a San Bernardo. The artist introduced some changes. In his version, that animal wears a flower necklace and the woman wears a quite different outfit. However, the French court considered that the differences are "minimal" and that "the staging is the same" as in the announcement. There are three known copies of this work. One of them was bought by the Prada Foundation in 2007 at an auction at Christie's for around three million euros.
Koons was already convicted in March 2017 in another case of plagiarism by the same French court. Although the compensation was then substantially lower: the artist had to pay 20,000 euros to the heirs of the photographer Jean-François Bauret, who had brought Koons to justice for plagiarizing one of his images in his work Naked. That statuette, which represented two naked children very similar to those of the image of Bauret, is part, just as Fait d'hiver, from the series Banality, which has already led to other disputes over plagiarism in the past. On the other hand, in May 2017 the undeniable resemblance between Seated Ballerina, an inflatable sculpture installed in front of the Rockefeller Center in New York, with a porcelain figure created by a Ukrainian sculptor, Oksana Jnikroup, who died in 1993.
The artist has also made headlines for the controversial sculpture that he presented to Paris in tribute to the 130 victims of the attacks in November 2015. The installation of the work, a hand holding a bouquet of colorful balloons in the shape of a tulip, was maintained for two years in limbo. The initial choice for its location, an open courtyard located between the Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo, with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower, was deemed unfeasible by the Ministry of Culture for the fragility of its foundations, unable to sustain a work of 33 tons. While the world of French culture questioned the good taste of the work and the intentions of the artist, the Paris City Council ended up finding a solution in mid-October, when it was decided, in agreement with the artist, that the work would be installed next to the Petit Palais of the French capital.