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Bilinski v. Keith Haring Foundation, Inc.
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
96 F. Supp. 3d 35 (2015)
Keith Haring was a famous artist and activist who produced many valuable artworks. Haring established the Keith Haring Foundation (the foundation) (defendant) to continue his legacy. Haring gifted many of his works to the foundation along with his intellectual-property rights. The foundation operated a committee for authentication of works attributed to Haring until 2012, but authentication or approval by the foundation was not necessary to sell Haring’s artwork as authentic. Elizabeth Bilinski (plaintiff) owned many works by Haring that she believed were authentic. Beginning in 2007, Bilinski sought to sell her Haring works and made attempts to receive authentication for her works from the foundation. The foundation rejected Bilinski’s requests for authentication without providing a reason and threatened legal action against her if she represented her Haring works to be authentic. In 2010, Bilinski renewed her efforts to sell her Haring works. Sotheby’s, an auction house, indicated that Bilinski’s Haring works were authentic, but it refused to sell them because of the foundation’s assertion that the works were inauthentic. Gagosian Gallery also refused to sell the works owned by Bilinski after communication with the foundation despite the gallery’s initial interest in selling the works. In 2013, Bilinski and Arthur Canario (plaintiff) participated in an exhibition of their Haring works, but the foundation filed suit against the exhibition’s organizers, claiming that the Haring works at the exhibition were inauthentic and issued a press release stating as much the same day. As a result, the exhibition removed most of the works, and Canario lost the sale of a Haring work. Bilinski and Canario brought an action against the foundation and its officers and directors for antitrust violations for unlawfully restricting the supply of Haring artwork in the marketplace, among other claims. The foundation and its officers and directors moved to dismiss the complaint.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cote, J.)
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