NEW YORK — Alfredo Versace is headed to jail for civil contempt.
Federal District Court Judge Peter Leisure on Wednesday handed down the order, stating that Versace must surrender to the U.S. Marshall on April 12 for a “term of civil commitment,” in which he will remain imprisoned until he has complied with the requirements of a contempt order issued last August.
As reported, the same court in September 2002 granted Gianni Versace SpA’s request to bar Alfredo from using the famed family name in connection to goods and services because of repeated violations of an existing preliminary injunction. The two have tangled in court since 1996 over alleged trademark infringement. Alfredo claims to be a relative of the late designer, although the famed design house has disputed any familial connection.
In the 1998 injunction, Alfredo was barred from using the marks of the Milan-based design house, but was allowed to use his own name under certain conditions. In 2000, he was held in contempt for violating the terms of the injunction because of continuing activity in watches, jeans, a new men’s wear business venture and even “Versace” branded cigarettes sold in Russia and Macau.
Over the intervening years, similar sanctions were issued by the court against Alfredo and in August 2003, the judge found him in contempt again. Since previous orders and monetary sanctions — a $2,000-a-day fine running from Oct. 3, 2002 and a January 2003 modification of the 1998 injunction that bars use of the “Versace” name in any commercial context — had no effect on Alfredo’s conduct, the court gave him a set amount of time to comply before it would order jail time to coerce compliance with previous orders.
Judge Leisure wrote in his order that Alfredo has “chosen the path of delay and obfuscation, steadfastly refusing to give the court an accurate and complete picture of his finances and business activities. His pernicious attitude has left the court with no recourse other than to enter this order and severe sanction.”
Bryan J. Holzberg, attorney for Alfredo, could not be reached for comment.
— Vicki M. Young