Jeremy Scott has once again found himself on the wrong side of a copyright lawsuit filed by an artist. Joseph Tierney, known as Rime, has sued both Jeremy Scott and Moschino. He claims Scott stole a piece of artwork that he completed for The Seventh Letter art organisation in Detroit in 2012 and used it on his 2015 A/W collection for Moschino.
Regular readers will recall that Scott was previously accused of stealing artwork from Jimbo Phillips, the artist that designed some of the most iconic and well-known Santa Cruz skateboard graphics during the eighties, back in 2013. Scott was forced to apologise and did not produce the infringing clothes and handbags. He also paid Phillips an undisclosed sum.
Rime, who is a well-known graffiti artist, accused the defendants of placing his art on their highest-profile apparel without his knowledge or consent. The lawsuit states; ”If this literal misappropriation were not bad enough, Moschino and Jeremy Scott did their own painting over that of the artist – superimposing the Moschino and Jeremy Scott brand names in spray-paint style as if part of the original work. The idea of putting graffiti – or “street” art – on ultra-expensive clothing was meant to provoke and generate publicity for the brand/designer. Towards that end, Defendants paid Katy Perry to advertise and display the clothing at the Met Gala, a high-profile party thrown annually by one of the nation’s most venerable institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Not only did Ms. Perry and Defendant Scott advertise, wear, and display the clothing at the event, they arrived at the event in a spray painted Rolls Royce, and even carried around Moschino branded cans of fake spray paint during the event, as if Defendants were responsible for the artwork.”
The artist asserts that his credibility was damaged as a result of this ‘crass and commercial publicity stunt’. Lawsuits in the world of graffiti have become much more prevalent in recent years. Street art isn’t what it once was and although rooted in counterculture, modern graffiti can now be found exhibited in museums. The graffiti industry, much like the tattoo industry, was once considered outside the law and not subject to the same laws and regulations as other art forms. However, cultural norms have changed dramatically in the last two decades and both graffiti and tattoo culture have now entered the mainstream. The rise in popularity and acceptance into mainstream society has seen a parallel increase in interest regarding the intellectual property issues related to them.
Scott is not the first designer to steal art from graffiti artists and use the stolen in his collection. In 2014 Roberto Cavalli was sued by three artists that claimed he had stolen the images featured on his spring/summer capsule collection from a mural in San Francisco’s Mission district that they had painted. Jason Williams, Victor Chapa and Jeffrey Rubin — known as Revok, Reyes and Steel – are claiming negligence, copyright infringement and unfair competition violations.
Will Scott and Moschino be forced to pull the collection from the shop floor? More to come on this one!