Berlin, 11 August 2023 – The law firm Raue successfully represented Berlin-based artist Götz Valien in proceedings before the Copyright Chamber of the Munich I Regional Court, in which Götz Valien sued for recognition of his co-authorship of the Paris Bar paintings, which had previously been attributed solely to the late artist Martin Kippenberger.
In a landmark decision on 7 August 2023, the Munich I Regional Court upheld Valien’s claim and ruled that Valien was a co-author of the Paris Bar paintings and should be credited as such in the future.
Raue had filed a lawsuit on Valien’s behalf in July 2022 against the Martin Kippenberger Estate, which administers Martin Kippenberger’s copyright estate and publishes the artist’s catalogue raisonné.
The paintings “Paris Bar (Version 1)” and “Paris Bar (Version 2)” are known worldwide as works by Martin Kippenberger, who died in 1997, and have been auctioned for millions. They show the interior view of the famous Berlin restaurant “Paris Bar”, which is still an institution as a hot spot of the art and film scene.
After not being invited to the contemporary art exhibition ‘Metropolis’ at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 1991, Kippenberger organised a counter-exhibition in the Paris Bar with works by other painters who had also not been invited. Kippenberger commissioned the Berlin cinema poster company Werner-Werbung to paint a large-format canvas of the exhibition hanging in the bar, as captured in a photograph. Götz Valien had painted and signed the pictures on his own in 1992 and 1993 on behalf of Werner-Werbung and the owners of the Paris Bar. It was not until 17 years later, when the painting Paris Bar (Version 1) was sold at Christie’s for GBP 2,281,250, that Valien learned that the commission for the paintings had gone back to the artist Martin Kippenberger.
In its decision, the three-judge panel of the Copyright Chamber of the Munich I Regional Court applied the principles of the ECJ on copyright protection of works and found that the Paris Bar paintings reflect the personality of Götz Valien by expressing his free creative decisions. According to the court, the plaintiff artist had sufficient scope for his own creative performance in the creation of the images he used. Photorealism cannot be “reduced” to a craft, but remains an art form, the judges said. Again, the result is determined by individual brushwork and the choice of perspective, form, detail, light and shading, they said. The Paris Bar paintings, according to the verdict, contain individual characteristics that are based on Götz Valien’s handwriting.
Martin Kippenberger’s estate has already announced that it will appeal.
Prof. Dr. Peter Raue and Dr. Felix Stang are partners at Raue, where they are responsible, among other things, for the practice area of art law. Both are lecturers at the Free University of Berlin and teach copyright law. Best Lawyers and Handelsblatt listed both of them, along with Dr. Mareile Büscher and Dr. Anna-Sophie Hollenders, in their latest edition of “Germany’s Best Lawyers 2023” in the category of art law, which includes a total of 14 lawyers. Dr. Mareile Büscher was named “Lawyer of the Year” in this section.
Advisors to Götz Valien
Raue, Berlin: Prof. Dr. Peter Raue, Dr. Felix Laurien Stang (both Partner, Art Law, Copyright Law, both lead),
Advisors to the Martin Kippenberger Estate
K&L Gates: Dr. Friederike Gräfin von Brühl