Louis Vuitton Tells San Francisco Hotel: ‘Cease and Desist’

Share Article

The Hotel des Arts, a San Francisco hotel that showcases original fine art in its hotel rooms, has been asked to remove a mural depicting the trademark of Louis Vuitton.

trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution.

The Hotel des Arts is a small San Francisco hotel that showcases the original fine art work of emerging artists from around the world. The San Francisco hotel's “Painted Rooms” exhibitions have received international acclaim as one-by-one, the 51 rooms of the hotel are transformed into works of fine art.

To date, nearly 30 of the rooms in the San Francisco hotel have been transformed, painted floor to ceiling by some of the premier emerging and underground artists in the world. The artists have been given free reign to create magic, and the project has been widely lauded as an amazing showcase of new artistic talent and fine art within this small San Francisco hotel.

One of the “Painted Rooms” in the art hotel features a series of hand painted floor-to-ceiling murals by San Francisco pop artist Tim Gaskin. Gaskin, whose artwork frequently juxtaposes celebrity icons with the iconography of contemporary advertising, included images of pop sensation Madonna on the walls of his room, superimposed on patterns and logos from luxury product manufacturer Louis Vuitton. The resultant work of original fine art is at once an homage, a commentary, and a critique of consumer culture and celebrity, and has received a great deal of press coverage and attention. Most people liked it.

Louis Vuitton's anticounterfeiting director of the Americas did not. The Hotel des Arts (http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com) recently received a cease and desist letter from Vuitton.

The global multinational demanded that the San Francisco hotel "remove all infringing depictions of the LV trademark from your walls." The letter further requested the "name and address" of the person who created "each mural painted," and threatened legal action for "trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution."

Louis Vuitton's anticounterfeiting director of the Americas further threatened "preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, an award of treble damages for willful infringement, statutory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs." The letter also suggested that the San Francisco hotel "may be subject to criminal prosecution under the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984; and that individual participants may themselves be personally liable for damages."

The Hotel des Arts refuses to be intimidated.

"Removing the LV trademark from the walls of the hotel would necessitate destroying an original piece of fine art, and that is not something we are even going to consider," said the Hotel des Arts' Richard Singer. "Works of artistic expression are clearly protected by the First Amendment, and we absolutely refuse to be censored by a multinational corporation and their teams of lawyers."

John Doffing, whose START SOMA art gallery (http://www.STARTsoma.com) curates the “Painted Rooms” exhibitions in the Hotel des Arts, echoes these sentiments. "We are taking a stand here, to prevent the chilling effect that such corporate intimidation could have on emerging artists and their creative freedom. They are suggesting criminal prosecution and/or potential financial ruin to an emerging artist for painting a picture on a wall!

“Tim's fine art work, whether Louis Vuitton likes it or not, is part of an artistic tradition of appropriation, commentary, and fair use that includes artists like Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, and of course, Andy Warhol. Not to mention the incontrovertible applicability of the First Amendment."

The artist agreed. "I am just happy that I am not fighting this alone," Gaskin observed. "I want to spend my time creating new fine art, and not have to worry about corporate thought police telling me what I can or cannot paint."

To see an image of the contested mural and other “Painted Rooms,” go to: http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com/paintedrooms.htm. For additional information, contact John Doffing at 415-505-4734.

Louis Vuitton is a registered trademark of Louis Vuitton Malletier and has no affiliation with the Hotel des Arts, San Francisco, START SOMA, Tim Gaskin or any of their representatives.

About Hotel des Arts:

Hotel des Arts is San Francisco’s newest boutique hotel. Located in the French Quarter, the Hotel des Arts is at the crossroads of Union Square, the Financial District and the Chinatown Gate, perfectly situated for business or pleasure. The Hotel des Arts is a small San Francisco hotel presenting the contemporary work of local artists. Its gallery is complemented by the neutral simplicity, modern lightings and clean lines of the hotel furnishings. The result is not simply art as a decoration, but art as an interactive experience.

Hotel des Arts: http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com

START SOMA: http://www.STARTsoma.com

Tim Gaskin: http://www.TimGaskin.com


John Doffing



Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

John Doffing, START SOMA
Visit website