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Legal saga over Dalí work is concluded in Spain’s Supreme Court

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Spain’s Supreme Court has put an end to a civil lawsuit brought by the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí against Juan Javier Bofill, the owner of the Barcelona exhibition company Faber Gotic.

In 2012, a commercial court in Barcelona ruled in the foundation’s favour, ordering Faber Gotic to remove Dalí’s name and image from a commercial display of the artist’s late sculptures in the city centre, and to pay compensation to the foundation for advertising the exhibition in connection with the official Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres. The company breached the foundation’s exclusive rights to the Dalí trademark and intellectual property, but did not violate the artist’s image, the court found.

The foundation’s subsequent appeal has now been dismissed by Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid, which upheld the original decision on 20 June. According to the ruling, the constitutional authority to protect Dalí’s image does not lie with the foundation, but with the Spanish state, the artist’s sole legal heir. The foundation, which Dalí established in 1983 and directed until his death in 1989, nevertheless, remains the only body that can grant or deny licences for the commercial use of Dalí’s work and image.

The foundation’s managing director, Juan Manuel Sevillano, told our sister newspaper Il Giornale dell’Arte: “It only confirms that, when faced with an attack on Dalí’s name, image or work, the foundation must inform the state, which will take the relevant measures.” The decision “does not affect the foundation’s legitimate position to manage and profit from the financial side of such a right”, Sevillano said.