784 F. Supp. 2d 337 – Dist. Court

Richard Prince v. Patrick Cariou: Is Our Artwork Really “Ours”?

You’ve just made a series of photographs that really make you proud. What’s more, a gallery contacts you to offer a show of your latest project, including a full-color catalog and other marketing materials. The night of your opening, you notice a man making photos of your displayed work; you optimistically assume he’s another gallery owner taking notes in advance of a pending offer to you for another show.

Eight months later, you attend a reception at a high-profile gallery on the East Coast, and are shocked to see the exhibition is of your photos, barely changed, the subjects of the mystery guest’s acclaimed project. What’s more, all of the works are priced in the tens of thousands of dollars, and many have already sold. You’re outraged, and that anger only intensifies when your upcoming show of the original images is cancelled, the gallery committee reasoning your work is “too similar” to the more prominent artist’s show of his photos of your displayed images.

Total fiction, right? Wrong.

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