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Jeff Koons loses appeal on high-profile plagiarism suit

Artist Jeff Koons and the Centre Pompidou museum in Paris has lost an appeal against a 2015 plagiarism lawsuit decision.

The original lawsuit was brought by the French photographer Frank Davidovici in 2015. It concerned a 1988 sculpture that depicted a woman in scant clothes standing beside two penguins and a pig wearing a flower necklace. Titled Fait d’hiver, it was part of Koon’s famous ‘Banality’ series of sculptures based on popular imagery. Davidovici claimed that the sculpture was inspired by the French clothing brand Naf Naf’s ad that he created in 1985. The original ad had the woman wear a fur coat instead of scant clothes, and had no penguins, but the photographer claimed that the similarity was obvious.

Davidovici came across Koon’s sculpture in 2014 in a catalogue and filed a lawsuit the next year in a Paris court. The court gave judgement in 2017 in his favour and held both Koons and Centre Pompidou guilty of plagiarism. The two parties were instructed to pay €135,000. Furthermore, the company that published the catalogue was also asked to pay €14,000. The court also ordered that any further use of the image would incur an additional fine of €600 per day.

Koons and Centre Pompidou had appealed against the verdict in the appeals court in Paris. The court upheld the original decision of the lawsuit and increased the fine the two parties had to pay. Now, the two parties have to collectively pay €190,000 to Davidocci. It must be noted that many other works of Koons have been accused of plagiarism in the past, including String of Puppies and Naked. Koons’ lawyer said that they were disappointed with the judgement. Centre Pompidou refused to comment on the decision.