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Joan Mitchell Foundation sends cease-and-desist to Louis Vuitton

24 February 2023

The Joan Mitchell Foundation (JMF), a New York-based organisation, that oversees the abstract artist’s estate has accused Louis Vuitton of reproducing without permission at least three of the works in an advertising campaign for handbags that features the actress Léa Seydoux. The foundation sent a cease-and-desist letter to the luxury brand on 21 February demanding that the company withdraw the campaign, give a full account of the advertisements purchased and send a formal apology. According to a statement issued by JMF, Louis Vuitton’s request for permission to use the images in late 2022 was declined in writing, citing its longstanding policy that images of the artist’s work may only be used for educational purposes. ‘It is a grave disappointment to JMF that Louis Vuitton has such disregard for the rights of an artist and would exploit her work for financial gain,’ reads the statement. The works, which include La Grande Vallée XIV (1983), Quatuor II for Betsy Jolas (1976) and Edrita Fried (1981) are all currently on view at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris as part of the ‘Monet–Mitchell’ exhibition (until 27 February). By permitting the works to be photographed for commercial use, Fondation Louis Vuitton is in violation of its agreement with JMF, the foundation said and has threatened to take further legal action if the campaign is not withdrawn.

A Spanish court has sentenced the art collector Guillermo Chamorro to four years in prison for attempting to 15 fake works. The court in Madrid heard that Chamorro had signed a contract with Setdart auction house in January 2018 to sell 16 works including seven by Eduardo Chillida, a Munch lithograph, two Lichtensteins, four works by José Guerrero and one lithograph by Saul Steinberg. It later transpired that 15 of the 16 pieces were forgeries created by Chamorro or a third party working on his behalf. A collector who had unwittingly acquired two forged Chillida prints alerted the Spanish police to two more suspected fakes being offered for sale at Setdart. According to the Guardian, the judges ‘noted that a key point was whether the defendant knew the works he had deposited for sale were fakes’ and concluded this was not not ‘an isolated or fortuitous case’ as Chamorro had previously been investigated for trying to sell other forged works.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has announced the acquisition of the archive of David Bowie, which includes costumes, albums, handwritten lyrics, videos and memorabilia. The 80,000-piece collection, spanning six decades of the musician’s career, will be housed in its own dedicated space called The David Bowie Centre of Performing Arts at the museum’s new site, the V&A East Storehouse, in Stratford and will be free for the public to view. The acquisition and the construction of the centre were made possible thanks to a donation of £10m from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.

The Tate Modern has announced that El Anatsui will be the next artist to create a work for the Turbine Hall. The Ghanian artist, who is best known for his bottle-cap sculptures, will take over the space this autumn (10 October 2023–14 April 2024), following in the footsteps of artists such as Kara Walker, Olafur Eliasson and the current occupant, Cecila Vicuña. ‘Anatsui’s much-loved Ink Splash II (2012) in Tate’s collection enchants visitors wherever it’s shown, and we can’t wait to see how this inventive artist will approach a space like the Turbine Hall,’ said Frances Morris, the director of Tate Modern.

La Grande Vallee XIV (For a Little While) (1983), Joan Mitchell. Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de création industrielle; © The Estate of Joan Mitchell.