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Hoepker v. Kruger

200 F. Supp. 2d 340 (2002)

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Hoepker v. Kruger

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

200 F. Supp. 2d 340 (2002)

Facts

Thomas Hoepker (plaintiff) was a photographer. In 1960, he created a photographic image of Charlotte Dabney (plaintiff) titled, Charlotte as Seen By Thomas. Barbara Kruger (defendant) was an artist who specialized in collage that combined photographs with text. In 1990, Kruger created an untitled collage (Kruger composite) that used a cropped and enlarged version of Charlotte as Seen By Thomas combined with three blocks of text. The Museum of Contemporary Art L.A. (MOCA) (defendant) purchased the Kruger composite from Kruger. MOCA exhibited the Kruger composite as part of an exhibit dedicated to Kruger. MOCA also sold a handful of gift items with an image of the Kruger composite on them, such as postcards, magnets, and t-shirts. MOCA also sold a book that contained three images of the Kruger composite. After the exhibit closed at MOCA, the Kruger exhibit moved to the Whitney Museum of American Art (Whitney) (defendant) for several months. Whitney advertised the exhibit with newsletters and brochures containing the Kruger composite. Whitney also purchased the inventory of gift items from MOCA to sell at its own museum shop for modest sums. Around the time that Whitney displayed the Kruger exhibit, reproductions of the Kruger composite appeared on billboards in Manhattan. Whitney claimed that the billboards were an art project because the intent was not to advertise Whitney’s Kruger exhibit. Dabney filed suit against Kruger and the museums, alleging violation of Dabney’s right of privacy. Kruger and the museums filed motions to dismiss the complaint.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hellerstein, J.)

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