Daniel Druet loses again against Maurizio Cattelan

Daniel Druet versus Maurizio Cattelan, such is the dispute that has divided art professionals for several years. This one is simple: the sculptor, Grand Prix de Rome, Daniel Druet claimed exclusive authorship on a set of wax models that he had executed, between 1999 and 2006, at the request of the artist Maurizio Cattelan who had them then staged. Following the Paris judicial court (July 8, 2022), the Paris Court of Appeal (June 5, 2024) has just confirmed the inadmissibility of Daniel Druet's requests.

In order to identify the original owner of the rights, article L. 113-1 of the Intellectual Property Code provides that “the status of author belongs, unless proven otherwise, to the person or persons under whose name the work is disclosed.” If an author can consent to the work being disclosed under the name of another, it will always be possible for him to put an end to it by revealing his authorship but he will have to prove his role in the creative process. Indeed, this presumption of ownership can be reversed, if other alleged authors demonstrate an effective contribution to the creation of the work.

However, for the appeal judges, Daniel Druet could not claim the slightest participation in the choices relating to the scenic devices for placing the wax sculptures in a situation since the directives, relating in particular to their positioning within the exhibition spaces aimed at to play on the emotions of the public (surprise, empathy, amusement, repulsion, etc.) only emanated from Maurizio Cattelan.

However, this decision is far from being that of the definition of creation or conceptual art. It is above all that of respect for procedural rules because “as the court held for reasons that the court adopts, failing to have summoned in person Maurizio Cattelan, the presumed author of the works for which he claims ownership of the rights, Daniel Druet, must be declared inadmissible in all his claims for copyright infringement.” The form prevailed over the substance, to the great detriment of the conceptual artists and Daniel Druet.

Maurizio Cattelan, La Nona Ora (1999) exhibited at the Monnaie de Paris in 2016.

© Photo Ludovic Sanejouand

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