French Picasso Judgement is Abstract Expression to U.S. Law Blog Art Law Blog
Art Law

French Picasso Judgement is Abstract Expression to U.S. Law Blog Art Law Blog

The dispute centers around photographs of the works of Pablo Picasso. In the early 1900s, Christian Zervos, working directly with Picasso, compiled some 16,000 photographs of Picasso’s work in a multi-volume collection that became known as the Zervos Catalogue. The first volume of the Zervos Catalogue was published in 1932. Yves Sicre de Fontbrune, a French citizen, later acquired the rights to the Zervos Catalogue. In 1995, American art editor Alan Wofsy, having obtained permission from the Picasso estate to reproduce the master’s works, began publishing a new collection entitled The Picasso Project, which included some photographs that had appeared in the Zervos Catalogue. In response, de Fontbrune brought a copyright infringement suit against Wofsy in France. A series of disputes between the parties led to a 2001 judgment in France, in which a French court of appeals (reversing the factual findings of a lower court) found The Picasso Project infringed the copyrights to several photographs in the Zervos Catalogue. The judgement prohibited Wofsy from using the photographs at issue and imposed an “ astreinte ” of 10,000 francs (approximately $1,680) for each future use of the prohibited works. When copies of The Picasso Project were found in a […]

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