Val Kilmer, who many remember as a movie star for a stretch over the 80s and 90s, has been sued for copyright infringement. The specific allegation being he has stolen the technique and intellectual property of another artist to replicate that artists’ works to sell for profit, as reported by KQRE. These are serious allegations that Kilmer faces, especially as new information continues to make its way to the press alleging that the plaintiff in the case, the world renown artist Bale Creek Allen, had asked Kilmer to cease and desist the unauthorized reproductions of his sculptures and that he holds a copyright on his artistic process and concept, per the Albuquerque Journal.
Allen is world famous for his tumbleweed sculptures. The short story on them is that he has a technique he uses to plate them in various types of metals, anything from copper or brass to gold, which he then displays and sells. As was previously reported by the Inquisitr, Kilmer had talked to Allen about his tumbleweed pieces, asking about his process and the pricing of his pieces. Allen told TMZ that Kilmer said he “couldn’t afford” one of Allen’s tumbleweed sculptures, and it was sometime after that Kilmer displayed a gold tumbleweed sculpture that he created himself on Facebook, which he listed for sale at $150,000.
In the lawsuit filed in New Mexico District Court, which can now be viewed on Justia Dockets, the basics of the suit, as well as who will be hearing the case, have been made publicly available. Santa Fe attorney, Thomas M. Hnasko, who is one of the attorneys representing Allen, reiterated to the Santa Fe New Mexican that Allen’s process is copyright protected, and Kilmer inquired about it.
“His method is copyright protected, and I believed Mr. Kilmer called and asked him about his method, which he then used.”
He further alleges that Kilmer went so far as to use the story Allen tells regarding the “plaintiff’s inspiration for the creation of the works” in his marketing materials and news releases. There are records of Allen creating and displaying his tumbleweed sculptures online dating back to at least 2004, according to Vision West Contemporary, a full decade before Kilmer produced one.
No date has been set for a hearing as of yet. The case will be handled by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, with United States Magistrate Judge Gregory B. Wormuth to conduct dispositive proceedings.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that they reached out to Just One Eye gallery in Los Angeles where Kilmer has had works displayed, inquiring if they had the sculpture in question, to which the unnamed woman answering the phone replied, not any longer, before a manager took the call and said they did not wish to comment.
“We used to have that piece of art but we don’t have it anymore. Val Kilmer just took his art back and that was it.”
Since the story first broke, it has been learned that there is photographic evidence that Kilmer did, in fact, make at least one tumbleweed sculpture allegedly using Allen’s process, and that he did offer it for sale and have it on display in at least one gallery. It has also been established that Allen does, in fact, hold a copyright on the process and that Allen is seeking unspecified damages, which some reports say will be based on how many tumbleweed sculptures were produced and/or sold by Kilmer, as reported by KQRE.