February 16, 2011

Jeff Koons comes back to Earth

Back in December we were shocked and awed to find out that Jeff Koons had filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco gallery Park Life, over their sale of book ends that were based on the image of a balloon dog.  Koons, after all, is an artist whose work famously features appropriation (and who has been sued over this very issue himself).  The truly amazing part of all this was that Jeff Koons himself had appropriated the balloon dog in the first place.  Had Koons been the first to twist one up, the notion of protecting his balloon creation and it's use would have merit.  Unfortunately for Koons, a lawsuit like the one he filed requires more than simply having giant balls, deep pockets and a gung ho legal team.

On Koon's birthday, January 21st,  Park Life's attorney answered the suit with a witty and sarcastic counter punch in the form of a federal complaint that contained numerous tweaks including this little nugget:  "Upon information and belief, Jeff Koons LLC purports to represent the intellectual property rights of Jeff Koons, a retired stockbroker whose sculptures and other works are well-known for copying pre-existing forms and images from popular culture."  Referring to a man, who is considered by many to be among today's preeminent contemporary artists, as simply a "retired stockbroker" must have rattled Koons.  He's lucky they didn't call him a pornographer as well.

We waited to see what form of bluster would come next from the great and terrible Koons legal team, but in the end there was only silence.  And then last week they quietly they dropped their misguided intellectual property suit, once again leaving the balloon dog squarely in the public domain where Koons found it in the first place.  Somebody's getting fired over this one.

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