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Deal Tightens Picasso Heirs’ Control Over Art

August 31, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ A deal with a company that puts Pablo Picasso’s work on everything from boxers to ties tightens his heirs’ control over reproduction of his art.

The deal announced Tuesday ends a 12-year dispute that began after Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter Marina sold the right to reproduce images of 234 of his works.

The majority of those rights ended up with Museum Boutique Intercontinental Ltd. of New York, which in 1980 began putting the images on glass, porcelain, clothing and home accessories.

``At the time, this was a new concept within the art world,″ the company said in court papers. ``The art merchandise available previously consisted of postcards, posters and art catalogs.″

But the proliferation of Picassos on rings, watches, handkerchiefs, shoes, rugs, paper bags, scarves, mugs and coasters did not sit well with heirs.

The estate’s lawsuit was scheduled for a June trial, but the agreement was reached and approved by a federal judge. While terms are confidential, court documents outlining the deal are public.

It calls for the company to sell off its inventory of Picasso products over the next 18 months with stickers saying, ``This product has not been approved by the estate of Pablo Picasso.″

Estate lawyer Dorothy Weber said the agreement was necessary in part because of the demand for Picasso merchandise. The artist produced 7,000 works before his death in 1973.

``There’s probably no other name of the 20th century that’s as well known for an artist,″ she said. ``He was so prolific and had such a vast body of work that really lends itself to being used on a variety of products.″

Museum Boutique officials did not return a call for comment.

As part of the deal, Museum Boutique acknowledges that all rights to the Picasso name are controlled by the Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins Et Modeles, now commonly known as the Society des Auteurs des Arts Visuels or SPADEM.

The French organization protects the intellectual property rights of individual artists worldwide.

Museum Boutique will now only have the right to sell towels, handkerchiefs, tote bags, pillows, paper products and leather jackets in the United States and must renegotiate for rights to all of its products worldwide with SPADEM.

In return, SPADEM agreed it will not license to anyone else the right to manufacture products containing the images from Museum Boutique’s collection, except for art books, bibliographic editions, educational uses, CD Roms and exhibitions.

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