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MUSEUM BOUTIQUE INTERCONTINENTAL v. PICASSO

June 2, 1995

MUSEUM BOUTIQUE INTERCONTINENTAL, LTD., Plaintiff, against CLAUDE PICASSO, PALOMA PICASSO, SOCIETE DE LA PROPRIETE ARTISTIQUE ET DES DESSINS ET MODELES, SUCCESSION PICASSO, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN

 SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.:

 Defendant Paloma Picasso ("Paloma") moves, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), to dismiss all counts against her in the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Museum Boutique Intercontinental, LTD. ("MBI"). *fn1" For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted. *fn2"

 BACKGROUND

 The full background to this case is set forth in the Court's February 1, 1995 Opinion and Order. However, a brief summary is necessary in order to understand the context of the present motion. MBI is a New York corporation which creates and licenses artistic designs incorporating images from famous works of art, including works by Pablo Picasso. Pablo Picasso, of course, is one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century who created more than one hundred thousand works of art prior to his death in 1973. Paloma Picasso is the daughter and one of the heirs of Pablo Picasso. *fn3"

 After Pablo Picasso's death, his actual works of art were divided among his heirs. However, the reproduction rights in the works remained in the Picasso Estate, or Succession Picasso, as the joint property of the heirs. Under French law, this joint property is known as the indivision successorale ("indivision"), and the joint ownership of the reproduction rights continues in effect until the heirs individually opt out or become subject, either through agreement among themselves or court decision, to a division, or partage, of the property. See Affidavit of Professor George A. Bermann, ("Bermann Aff."), dated March 31, 1995 at PP 9-10. *fn4" In 1976, the heirs and the Societe de la Propriete Artistique et des Dessins et Modeles ("SPADEM") entered into an agreement which granted SPADEM the right to administer, manage and exploit the Picasso name, image and likeness in connection with reproductions of Picasso artwork. *fn5" In 1989, a French court appointed Claude Picasso Administrator of the Indivision in order to facilitate the management of the reproduction rights. Id. at P 12. The French court also authorized Claude to contract with SPADEM to assist him in commercially exploiting Pablo Picasso's works. Id. at P 18.

 In 1980, MBI allegedly acquired exclusive licenses to reproduce certain Picasso paintings and create derivative works incorporating these images. *fn6" However, these licenses were the almost immediate subject of dispute between MBI and Jackie Fine Arts and the Picasso Estate, and the Picasso Estate brought suit in New York Supreme Court to establish the rights of the parties in the images and associated copyrights. The lawsuit was settled in 1980 by an agreement between the parties which essentially gave MBI the continued right to exploit and reproduce certain Picasso images, subject to the oversight of the Picasso heirs. See MBI v. Claude Picasso, et al., 1995 WL 37747, *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. February 1, 1995). During the ensuing decade, the parties continued to dispute, threaten litigation, and negotiate settlements of various issues arising in connection with the exploitation of the reproduction rights. In 1993, MBI brought this suit against the named defendants. *fn7"

 In its Second Amended Complaint, MBI claims that defendants SPADEM, Claude Picasso, and Succession Picasso have infringed MBI's exclusive rights in the Picasso works and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to bar these defendants from making any infringing use of those works. See Second Amended Complaint at Counts One and Two. In addition, MBI alleges that the defendants have engaged in false designations of origin by using MBI derivative works (Count Four); trade secret misappropriation (Count Five); conduct constituting promissory estoppel (Count Six); intentional interference with contractual relations with MBI's Japanese manufacturers and distributors (Counts Seven and Eight); breach of contract (Count Nine); unjust enrichment (Count Ten); deceptive acts and practices (Count Eleven); unfair competition (Count Twelve); and defamation and trade disparagement (Count Thirteen). With the exception of Count Seven, the only actions alleged in the Complaint are actions taken by SPADEM, Succession Picasso, or Claude Picasso in connection with the indivision.

 Count Seven of the Second Amended Complaint claims defendants tortiously interfered with MBI's contractual relations and is the only count which contains claims against Paloma in her personal capacity. In its proposed Count Seven, *fn8" MBI alleges that it had valid license agreements with the Japanese companies Nayoya Mitsukoshi Ltd. ("Mitsukoshi") and INFAS Co., Ltd. ("INFAS") to sell MBI derivative works and reproductions of Picasso works of art. Proposed Count Seven at P 183. MBI also claims that SPADEM, Claude and Paloma Picasso had actual knowledge of these agreements and that these defendants falsely advised Mitsukoshi and INFAS that MBI had no right to license or sell MBI derivative works of art in order to induce a breach of the licensing agreements. Id. at PP 184-185. Specifically, Paloma is alleged to have falsely advised Mitsukoshi and INFAS on June 28, 1991 that they had acquired rights from MBI "who actually has no power to grant them," and that Paloma "continued to make such statements up until MBI was coerced and induced into terminating [its contracts with Mitsukoshi and INFAS] in 1993." Id. at P 186.

 In addition, MBI claims that Paloma's statements made MBI, INFAS, and Mitsukoshi's "performance more difficult and lessened each party's enjoyment of the contract." Id. at P 187. Specifically,

 
Mitsukoshi and INFAS lost faith in MBI and sought continuous reassurance from MBI. Mitsukoshi was forced to fly two million dollars of its prototypes to New York for a product review. MBI spent many working hours trying to assure Mitsukoshi and INFAS that it had the rights to license these goods and in contact with Claude Picasso and SPADEM to make sure that they would not sue MBI's agents and licensees.

 Id. Claude Picasso also sought the termination of the Mitsukoshi and INFAS contracts as part of the Global License Agreement that he was negotiating with MBI. *fn9" Id. at P 189. Finally, MBI alleges that Paloma and Claude's actions drove MBI to seek the Global Licensing Agreement and subsequently caused MBI to terminate its contracts with Mitsukoshi and INFAS. Id. at P 189-90.

 DISCUSSION

 When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must presume all material factual allegations in the complaint to be true and must construe all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Paulemon v. Tobin, 30 F.3d 307, 308 (2d Cir. 1994). The complaint may be dismissed only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him ...


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