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Artist’s copycat claim rejected by Paris court

But Xavier Veilhan and his dealer Emmanuel Perrotin say they may appeal

Veilhan's bear sculpture, left, and Orlinski's wolf

The French sculptor Xavier Veilhan, whose monumental works were displayed at the Palace of Versailles in 2009, and his Paris-based dealer Emmanuel Perrotin have lost a legal battle against another artist, Richard Orlinski. Veilhan accused Orlinski of directly copying his glossy, angular sculptures of animals, but late in March a district court in Paris rejected the claim.

Veilhan said that earlier this year his Swedish dealer spotted pieces by Orlinski in a gallery in Switzerland. “Meanwhile, people skiing in Courchevel [in the French Alps] say they’ve seen my works on the ski slopes. But I’ve only made a polar bear [sculpture] for the Cheval Blanc hotel there. They were in fact referring to a sculpture of a white wolf by Orlinski,” he told the French website Le Quotidien de l’Art.

Veilhan and Emmanuel Perrotin took legal action against Orlinski for counterfeiting and unfair competition. Orlinski denied all the charges, and on 21 March a Paris judge ruled in his favour. “The court has rightly recognised the originality of Orlinski’s work,” said the artist’s lawyer, Julie Jacob, in a statement. She added that if Orlinski had lost the case, he would have been required to pay more than €15m in “financial penalties”.

Galerie Perrotin disputes this figure, adding in a statement that the court “considered Orlinski drew his inspiration from Veilhan’s work, but would not have committed any wrongful act in doing so”.

Veilhan and Galerie Perrotin disagree with the court ruling, especially as “it dismisses their requests concerning ‘parasitism’”, the gallery added. “Consequently, they reserve the right to appeal the decision before the Paris appeal court.”

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