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Joan Mitchell Foundation Starts Legalities Against Louis Vuitton Over Unauthorized Use

The Joan Mitchell Foundation has sent a cease-and-desist order against Louis Vuitton for using the artist’s paintings in their handbag commercials.

As per Christa Blatchford (executive director, JMF), Louis Vuitton Malletier (LVM) had sent numerous requests to the foundation since December last year to use the paintings of Joan Mitchell for their commercials. However, Blatchford stated that the requests were declined because the foundation only allows the use of Mitchell’s works for academic and artistic purposes. Despite this, Louis Vuitton went ahead with a commercial that used the paintings that aired this month.

In the commercial, actress Léa Seydoux could be seen with the Louis Vuitton luxury handbags (with a retail price of $10,500) against the backdrop of Joan Mitchell paintings. Further investigation has revealed the 3 works featured in the ads were probably the ones that are being exhibited at Foundation Louis Vuitton, a museum outside Paris owned by the LVMH (the parent company of LVM). The advertisements also featured the works of Monet – the same works which are also being exhibited at the museum. The “Monet – Mitchell” exhibition will be run until February 27th.

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Blatchford said: “It’s important for folks to understand that this wasn’t something we agreed to. How did it even happen, is my question. I honestly don’t understand how it happened on their side. I really don’t.” Commenting on the fact that the museum and the luxury brand are legally distinct entities, yet seemingly aided each other in this scenario, she added: “It is disheartening to realize that what we thought of as distance between the two entities doesn’t seem to be in existence, in the ways that we would have expected. There’s some hope I have that distance actually gets solidified so that Foundation Louis Vuitton could do its work in the right way.”