Friday, February 29, 2008

Property Rights

I saw this item on and thought that it had really fascinating implications. It also seems to play into the worst stereotypes of gallerists as opportunistic, self-serving, scale-covered charlatans who will stop at nothing to make buck. Even if it is patently dishonest and morally reprehensible:

Rauschenberg Sues to Stop Gallery from Selling Items Pulled from His Trash

Artist Robert Rauschenberg has filed lawsuits against a Florida artist and art gallery, reports USA Today. Rauschenberg says that Robert Fontaine and the HW Gallery of Naples, Florida, improperly sold artwork under his name, complete with bogus certificates of authenticity, after pulling discarded pieces from the artist’s trash. "Rauschenberg is an incredible artist,"

Yale Freeman, Fontaine's attorney, said recently. "But what happens when that incredible artist discards material? Do the laws of abandonment apply?" Neither Rauschenberg nor his associates can comment because the matter is under litigation, said Mark Pace, speaking on the artist's behalf. Pace is executive assistant to artist Darryl Pottorf, a close Rauschenberg colleague and confidante. Rauschenberg's attorney, Lawrence Kolin of Orlando, could not be reached for comment. "I have no comment," Lauren Greenough, director of HW Gallery, said Wednesday.

HW Gallery lists four Rauschenbergs on its website. The lawsuit filed in US District Court in Fort Myers asks that Fontaine and his associates be stopped from doing anything likely to mislead others into believing that works of art not attributable to Robert Rauschenberg came from the artist or are approved by the artist.

*note: the image pictured is pulled from HW's website. I do not know if it is one of the contested images or not.

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