Joseph Tierney, the street artist known as Rime, has filed a copyright lawsuit against Moschino SpA and Jeremy Scott, claiming the label knocked off his work and signature.
In the 20-page filing submitted to the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, the artist included colorful images of Scott, Moschino’s creative director, and Katy Perry at this year’s Met Gala wearing pieces that were said to be inspired by the artist’s street art.
There is also a shot of Gigi Hadid modeling Moschino on the runway. Tierney’s suit features what are described as media photographs, showing his name and fake signature.
Moschino executives did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Once legal papers are served to Moschino, which is expected to happen next week, the company will have 21 days to respond.
The seven-claim suit is seeking damages for copyright infringement; falsification; removal and alteration of copyright management information; unfair competition under the Lanham Act, the California Business and Professions Code and California Common Law; appropriation of name and likeness in violation of the California Civil Code, and negligence.
Rime alleges that the idea of putting graffiti or street art on ultraexpensive clothing “was meant to provoke and generate publicity for the brand/designer.” The suit alleges that the brand “paid Perry to advertise and display the clothing at the 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 Perry and 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.”
Rime’s lawyers at the Los Angeles-based Erikson Law Group noted that the publicity generated was far and wide, so much so that Perry “even made a number of ‘Worst Dressed’ lists as a result. Such notoriety was obviously the goal — given the calculated inappropriateness of the outfit to the occasion. Notably, defendants deliberately and obnoxiously disobeyed a recommended dress code under which attendees were to stay within the museum’s Chinese exhibition theme,” referring to the “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition currently on view.
The lawyers contend that the collection and designs were mechanical copies of a giant mural called “Vandal Eyes” that Rime was commissioned to do on the side of a building and completed in 2012. Moschino’s versions were made by allegedly using high-resolution photography. The artist claims that Moschino added their own graphic design over the mural artwork, including its brand name.
The suit also notes that the Brooklyn-based Tierney’s work was featured in the 2011 “Art in the Streets” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Scott is said to have attended the opening. Rime said Wednesday, “I met a lot of people that night. And I’m pretty sure me and him met that night.”
Rime’s legal team claimed that Moschino was urged to remove the items allegedly inspired by the artist’s work from the marketplace. “Despite assurances of cooperation and repeated requests for more time to respond, the infringing items are still widely advertised, promoted and offered for sale — including even on the company’s own Web sites and social media accounts, effectively continuing to republish and display the infringing items to a wide audience on a daily basis.”
In a phone interview Wednesday, Jeff Gluck, one of Rime’s attorneys, said Moschino was notified in May of the alleged infringement and after waiting three months or so for the items in question to be removed from Web sites, Moschino advertising and various social media outlets, “Rime eventually felt he had no choice but to file the lawsuit.”
The artist was one of four artists Disney invited to create a reinterpretation of Mickey Mouse for Disney, and has also created limited-edition footwear for Adidas and Converse. But his focus is now solely on noncommercial ventures. Gearing up for his first show at the Jonathan LeVine gallery in New York, Rime said, “In the past year-and-a-half to two years, I’ve been trying to distance myself from aligning with companies or corporate collaborations and such. So for something be released in this way sort of aligns me in the direction of being with people I don’t want to be associated with [referring to the Moschino controversy]. I have always been making fine art. As the demand to produce work for solo shows in the United States and internationally increases, I have to put all of my energy into that — which leaves me little time to work on things centered around products and things like that.”
The artist recently wrapped up a two-month residency in Paris preparing for his solo show at Galerie Wallworks, which has since concluded. But the experience will find a way into his future art.
He said, “The inspiration for my work comes from traveling and getting myself into odd circumstances. I’m more influenced by life experience than going to other people’s art shows and finding inspiration that way. I’m into direct inspiration, so traveling and living life makes its way into my artwork.”