A Danish court has issued an injunction against watchmakers Arne Leivsgard and Dann Thorleifsson to prevent them from cutting up the painting Paris Chic, 2017, by artist Tal R and including pieces of the canvas in the decorative faces of their newest line of designer wristwatches. According to The Guardian, the duo bought Tal R’s work, which is from the artist’s “Sexshops” series, for $91,000 from Victoria Miro Gallery in London in August.
While Tal R, whose multidisciplinary practice encompasses painting, sculpture, and installations, acknowledged that anyone who bought one of his works had the right to destroy it, he pursued legal action against Leivsgard and Thorleifssoncofounders of the brands Kanske and Lethowhen he learned in October that they were going to use fragments of Paris Chic to sell some three hundred Letho watches for about $1,500 each.
In its ruling, Copenhagen’s maritime and commercial court declared that the watchmakers’ plan to use the pieces of the painting for their own commercial gain would be a violation of copyright law. Commenting on their selection of the piece, Thorleifsson said: “We needed an artist that was esteemed by experts because we also needed to get a reaction. If we just took a $100 canvas, no one would really care. It needed to be a true masterpiece.”
After the verdict, the artist’s lawyer, Jørgen Permin, told The Guardian that he was “very pleased with the very clear decision.” “We hope it will mark the end of this case and that it will mean that Tal R and his fellow artists may avoid similar disputes in the future.”