Court rules in favour of Danish artist Tal R in copyright suit

Tal R, Paris Chic, 2017, pigment and rabbit skin glue on canvas 176 x 203 x 6 cm. Courtesy Victoria Miro, London

The Danish painter and sculptor Tal R has won a legal battle to prevent the founders of the now defunct watch company Kanske, Arne Leivsgard and Dann Thorleifsson, from using one of his works in the production of watches for their new brand Letho. Leivsgard and Thorleifsson purchased Tal R’s Paris Chic (2017) in August this year for £70, 000 from Victoria Miro, London. In October, the pair then proposed plans to incorporate the painting in the watch face designs for a limited line of watches. Additionally, Letho had invited potential buyers to bid for the chance to be the first to choose what part of the painting they wanted on the face of their watch.

Tal R’s lawyer, Jørgen Permin, said that the artist ‘acknowledges that whoever purchases one of his works would be at liberty to sell it on or even destroy the work, but what he is not obliged to accept is for someone to alter the work and then reintroduce it to the public domain, and particularly not for commercial reasons’. The Danish court sided with Tal R on the grounds that the plan involved an alteration to the work rather than destruction and therefore went against copyright law. 

2 December 2019