APPROPRIATION AND TRANSFORMATION

Patrick Cariou, a professional photographer, spent six years among the Rastafarians of Jamaica. and in 20oo he published a book of  portrait and landscape photographs taken during this sojourn.  Yes Rasta sold modestly, earning Cariou about $8,000 in royalties from sales of about 5700 copies. Four of those copies were purchased by appropriation artist Richard Prince. Prince, without permission from Cariou, created more than 30 large-scale art works, called the “Canal Zone” series, which incorporated photographs taken from Yes Rasta, altering them to varying degrees, for example:

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Prince’s Canal Zone series was exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in 2008.  As the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit noted, with evident awe, in its recent opinion in Cariou v. Prince, the dinner hosted by the Gagosian in association with the show was attended by such A-List celebrities as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Jeff Koons, Tom Brady, Graydon Carter, Robert de Niro, and Brangelina. Prince sold eight works for a total of $10,480,000 and exchanged seven others for works by Larry Rivers and Richard Serra.  Can life possibly be this unfair?

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