It is reported that a complaint was filed by Graham on 30 December 2015 against Prince, the Gagosian Gallery- where PrinceÂs New Portraits exhibition was held between September 2014 and October 2014, and Lawrence Gagosian the owner of the Gagosian Gallery.
The complaint states that PrinceÂs reproduction of GrahamÂs photograph Â which is a black and white image of a Rastafarian man lighting a marijuana cigarette- was not modified adequately to warrant it being an original work. The contentious piece was sold to Gagosian after the New Portarista exhibition closed.
According to the Complaint, PrinceÂs ÂThe New Portraits collection exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery featured 37 inkjet prints on canvas, Prince referred to the inkjet prints as Âscreen savesÂ of Instagram posts. The images were blown up in size and the only other modification to the images exhibited by Prince could be seen in the comments underneath the pictures, these comments comprised of bizarre sentences and emojiÂs. PrinceÂs work sold for up to $100,000 a piece at New YorkÂs Frieze art fair.
The complaint further states that the infringing work includes a reproduction of the copyrighted photograph. The modifications are Âminor cropping of the bottom and top portionsÂ of the image, leaving most of the image Âfully intactÂ and framing the copyrighted photograph with elements of the Instagram graphic user interfaceÂ including a line of text above the photograph with a ÂthumbnailÂ image and username of the Instagram account holder responsible for posting the image to Instagram and lines of text below the image reads Ârichardprince4 Canal Zinian da lam jamÂ with a pictogram of a fist. With regards to modification, it mentions the resizing of the photograph to 4 ft Â¾ inches.
This is not the first time that Prince has been involved in a legal dispute with an artist whose work he is used without permission. In 2014, it was reported that Prince settled a three-year-long copyright case with photographer Patrick Cariou, In this case, it was alleged that Prince had used CariouÂs book on the Rastafarian community ÂYes, RastaÂ as part of his Canal Zone series.
To this end the complaint notes that Prince has Âachieved notoriety in the Âappropriation of artÂ in the industry for his blatant disregard of copyright la. ÂMr Prince consistently and repeatedly has incorporated othersÂ works into works for which he claims sole authorship without obtaining permission from, or providing compensation, recognition, attribution to, the original workÂs author.Â
Prince is a controversial character and at the time of CartiouÂs complaint in 2011, he commented ÂCopyright has never interested me. For most part of my life I owned half a stereo, so there was no point in suing me, but thatÂs changed now and itÂs interestingÂ So, sometimes itÂs better not to be successful and well-known and you can get away with much more. I knew what I was stealing 30 years ago but it didnÂt matter because no one cared, no one was paying any attention.Â
In October 2014, Graham posted a photo of the work to his Instagram page, this included the print featuring the Rastafarian Smoking Joint. The caption alongside the image read ÂAppropriated Exhibit. The only way youÂd know my work was a part of this displayÂ is well, thatÂs just it, you wouldnÂt know. #PrinceofAppropriation.
The suit further notes that on 25 October 2014, Prince replied to a post on Twitter made by GrahamÂs wife regarding the appropriation saying ÂYou can have your photo back. I donÂt want it. You can have all the credit in the world.Â
Neither Prince nor the Gagosian Gallery were available for comment.