a tale of a few cities

Licensing slip up: Velvet Underground sues over Giorgio de Chirico banana symbols

The Uncertainty of the Poet,  1913
L’Incertitude du poète

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Rock group The Velvet Underground filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to stop any future exhibition/reproduction of Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 masterwork, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

The 1960s rock band formed by Lou Reed and John Cale accused the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico of trademark infringement, retroactively claiming in a lawsuit that the use of banana symbols are synonymous with The Velvet Underground.

Each of the bananas featured in de Chirico’s iconic artwork bare an uncanny resemblance to the banana featured on the cover of Velvet Underground’s 1967 album “The Velvet Underground and Nico.”

The fact that de Chrico’s work was created decades earlier was not mentioned in the lawsuit.

Although Velvet Underground broke up in 1973, the album later came to be regarded as one of the best albums of all time, and was also referred to as “The Banana Album”.

“The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet Underground … that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the use of bananas as a symbol of The Velvet Underground,” the complaint added.

The lawsuit said the aging control freaks behind the band had repeatedly asked the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico to cease all future exhibition and further reproduction of the 1913 work, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

Velvet Underground is seeking an injunction stopping the use of banana symbols by other parties, a declaration that the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico has no retroactive copyright interest in the use of banana symbols, unspecified damages and a share of previous profits made by the Fondazione Giorgio de Chirico from any licensing deals of the iconic artwork.


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