Andy Warhol Foundation Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over an Allegedly Stolen Photo of Prince

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Andy Warhol Foundation Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over Prince Photo
Prince performing at the Ritz club in the East Village neighbourhood of New York City, during his 'Dirty Mind' tour, 22nd March 1981. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
Andy Warhol Foundation Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over Prince Photo

Prince performing at the Ritz club in the East Village neighborhood of New York City, during his ‘Dirty Mind’ tour, 22nd March 1981. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

A judge rules that Warhol’s “Prince Series” qualifies as fair use.

A two-year copyright battle over an allegedly stolen photo of Prince has finally come to an end. 

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According to The Associated Press, US District Court Judge, John G. Koeltl, ruled in favor of The Andy Warhol Foundation in a lawsuit filed by famed celebrity photographer, Lynn Goldsmith. In her 2017 claim against The Warhol Foundation, Goldsmith argued that the late pop art icon’s “Prince Series” used a photo from her 1981 shoot with The Purple One. For Warhol, what began as an editorial image commissioned by Vanity Fair for a 1984 story eventually inspired the “Prince Series” — comprising 12 silkscreen paintings, two drawings, and two screens prints on paper. Goldsmith claims to have only discovered the use of her photo in 2016, when Vanity Fair published Warhol’s Prince image in observance of his untimely death.

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Referring to the estate’s preemptive suit against her in 2017, Goldsmith tells artnet News: “I know that some people think I started this, and I’m trying to make money. That’s ridiculous – the Warhol Foundation sued me first for my own copyrighted photograph.” In turn, the artist’s attorneys claimed his interpretation of the photo was transformative, filing to “protect the works and legacy of Andy Warhol.”

In his ruling, Judge Koeltl declared that Warhol’s work qualified as fair use, stating: “The Prince Series works can reasonably be perceived to have transformed Prince from a vulnerable, uncomfortable person to an iconic, larger-than-life figure.”

You can see Goldsmith’s original photo and Warhol’s recreation below.

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