VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts wrongfully auctioned off photographs of Wayne Gretzky that Warhol used for commissioned paintings in 1983, a fine art company claims in court.
Frans Wynans Fine Art sued the Warhol Foundation in British Columbia Supreme Court.
Wynans claims that in 1983 it signed a deal with Gretzky's company to commission Warhol to create six paintings of the famed hockey player. Warhol took an unknown number of Polaroids of Gretzky in a three-hour photo shoot in September 1983, according to the complaint.
Wynans claims it paid Gretzky's company $50,000, plus royalty payments to license the artwork, and paid Warhol $175,000 to create it. While the deal granted copyright to Warhol, it stated that both Wynans and Warhol needed Gretzky's permission to "reproduce, restrike, utilize or otherwise exploit the Art" and gave Wynans exclusive rights to sell the works, according to the complaint.
"Being fully occupied with the marketing and selling the Paintings and Prints, Mr. Wynans gave no thought to the Photos, of whose continued existence after the Art was produced, he was unaware," the complaint states.
After Warhol died in 1987, his works, including the Gretzky Polaroids, were transferred to the Warhol Foundation.
In November 2012, Frans Wynans says, he heard about a Christie's auction that featured "'four unique Polaroid prints'" of Gretzky, which were sold for $9,000. Wynans claims the Warhol Foundation breached the 1983 deal by directly competing with Wynans and refusing to deliver the photos before they were sold off.
Wynans is represented by Andrew J. Winstanley in Vancouver.