Street artist David Anasagasti aka “Ahol Sniffs Glue” has filed a lawsuit accusing American Eagle Outfitters of unlawful infringement of his intellectual property — on their website and social media, in ads and billboards, and around their stores — without permission or compensation.
In one of the sloppiest corporate appropriations we’ve seen in a while, American Eagle Outfitters had flown out models to Miami’s Wynwood district and photographed them against a bright blue mural of Ahol’s signature rows of sleepy eyes. The retail chain, which earned $3 billion last year, used the imagery for a variety of campaigns. Miami New Times explains:
The image, the suit alleges, was plastered everywhere from a billboard at Houston Street and Broadway in New York City to in-store displays worldwide, the company’s Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube, and in storefronts from Colombia to Japan.
American Eagle also posed a model in front of the same mural holding a blue spray paint can, implying that its Justin Bieber clone had created the artwork.
During a store opening in Medellín, Colombia, American Eagle allegedly went as far as hiring three local graffiti artists to re-create another of Ahol’s works on an eight-foot wooden panel, layering the company’s logo over the iconic eyeballs for added impact.
If that sounds ridiculous, it looks ridiculous too.
The lawsuit alleges:
Given that he hails from the counter-culture world of underground street artists, Mr. Anasagasti’s reputation as an artist has been founded, in part, on a public perception that (he) doesn’t ‘sell out’ to large corporate interests.
Ahol takes this very personally:
They represent the working class, who struggle and are good people. They may look a little droopy, a little sad, but it’s his way of saying, ‘You may be down today, but you’ve got to keep going.
…and not, presumably, “Buy this shirt and happily hop over a fire hydrant.”
On his website, Ahol lists that a commission for VH1 Tough Love in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2011.
Ahol is seeking unspecified damages and the profits from the infringement. (Images: Miami New Times)