10
Mar/14

Basquiat Estate v Christie’s


basquiat untitled

Plaintiffs are the administrators of the Estate of their brother, the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Estate owns the trademark ‘BASQUIAT” and the copyrights in his works. It serves as an Authentication Committee to opine on the authenticity of works attributed to him. Christie’s is the famous auction house. A collector put 50 of his alleged Basquiat works up for sale through Christies. He had previously shown 7 such works to the Authentication Committee, which authenticated 6 of them. Christie’s listed the 50 works on its catalog and ran a notice in it:

All artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat: (c) 2014 the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris/ARS, New York.

The complaint doesn’t specifically say that the 43 unauthenticated items are not authentic. Para. 10 of the complaint says specifically what they say about the authenticity. Para. 11 indicates that the copyright notice is false, because the Estate won’t claim copyright in all of the works because it won’t claim ownership in works that are of ‘questionable authenticity.’ Accordingly, Christie’s claim that the Estate is claiming copyright, is a false statement that deceptively implies that the works are authentic and that the Estate sanctioned the sale.

Christie’s has reportedly suspended the sale.

A sample Basquiat work from Wikipedia here (not intended to suggest that it is part of the suit).

basquiat v christies

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