Maurizio Cattelan confirmed as author in court

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Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, poses near his sculpture depicting pope Jean Paul II "La Nona Ora" during a photocall, before the opening of his exhibition "Not afraid of love", on October 17, 2016, in Paris. Photo: Profimedia

The Paris court on Friday confirmed the artist Maurizio Cattelan as the author of his works, and rejected the requests of Daniel Druet who had made the sculptures for Cattelan and considered himself the true author.

The dispute concerns eight works by the 61-year-old Italian, who calls himself a “conceptual artist”, including sculptures shaped by Druet.

An emblematic work is “Him” (2001), an installation where the spectator advances towards a boy placed from behind and on his knees, before discovering that it is Adolf Hitler.

maurizio cattelan
”Him” (2001) by Maurizio Cattelan. Paris, 2016. Photo: Profimedia

With his know-how to execute extremely realistic sculptures, among others for the Grévin museum in Paris, Daniel Druet, an 80-year-old Frenchman, wishes to be recognized as the exclusive author of the eight works in question.

The court did not follow him.

The plaintiff “does not claim the quality of co-author of a collaborative work or a composite work but the quality of sole author of the works in question”, he recalled.

He reproached him for not initiating the procedure against the controversial Italian artist, but against his representative, the Perrotin Gallery, and an institution that mounted an exhibition with these works, the Monnaie de Paris.

“Failing to have summoned in person Maurizio Cattelan, alleged author, (…) Daniel Druet must be declared inadmissible in all his claims for copyright infringement”, considered the court.

The defense considered that this judgment would set an example.

“This decision constitutes real case law in that, for the first time, the magistrates consecrate conceptual art by a decision of principle”, wrote in a press release the lawyers of the Perrotin gallery, Pierre-Yves Gautier and Pierre-Olivier.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Jean-Baptiste Bourgeois, contested this interpretation. In this judgment, “there is not a line on the merits of the file. It is an end of inadmissibility, for a question of form”, he declared to AFP.

“I obviously regret not having assigned Maurizio Cattelan at the start, but I find the decision totally unfounded (…) The same court, the same chamber, in February 2020, certainly in a different composition, had recognized our requests admissible”, he recalled.

Druet, trained at the Beaux-Arts and Prix de Rome, embarked on this procedure long after the collaboration with Cattelan, which had lasted from 1999 to 2006. He regrets that his contribution has not been sufficiently recognized thereafter.

The court sentenced him to reimburse 10,000 euros to the Perrotin gallery, and the same sum to the Monnaie de Paris.

Represented at the hearing which took place on May 13, Cattelan never spoke about this case.

Besides the exposure of “Him” on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto in 2013, he is used to the blows of brilliance, which have raised his rating on the market over the years.

For another work concerned by the procedure, “La Nona Ora” (1999), Mr. Druet had sculpted a Pope John Paul II. The Italian had crashed a stone on it, to represent the sovereign pontiff killed by a meteorite. Via AFP

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