Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about San Francisco. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about community. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about artists in the community, especially muralists, and thinks what they do is “really cool.” So cool, in fact, that real estate company Zephyr Real Estate decided to appropriate a bunch of local muralists’ work, without permission or compensation, for a 2013 promotional calender used to help sell multi-million dollar homes. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate doesn’t understand why the artists would be upset by this.
Courthouse News Service has the story:
SAN JOSE (CN) - In a lawsuit that spotlights tensions over soaring prices and gentrification in San Francisco, the creators of several iconic city murals sued a real estate company for using their art to advertise “luxury homes.”
Eight artists accuse Zephyr Real Estate, the city’s largest independent real estate firm, of infringing on their copyrights by reproducing their work in a 2013 promotional calendar without asking for permission.
“It just rankles that a company that is selling multimillion-dollar homes and really contributing to the gentrification of the city uses these beautiful pieces of public art for their private profit,” said attorney Brooke Oliver, of 50 Balmy Law, who spoke to Courthouse News on behalf of the plaintiffs.
The images in the calendar come from neighborhoods all around the city, including Chinatown, Dubose Triangle and the Mission. […]
Zephyr president Randall Kostick said he’s surprised the issue has come to a lawsuit. He said the company tried to resolve the problem after an artist complained. “After I researched I found out that, yes, we should have gotten permission - it’s a technicality of the law I was unfamiliar with - and we apologized,” he told Courthouse News in an interview. […]
“They’re cool calendars,” [Kostick] said. “They try to take one aspect of the city that is really cool and highlight it every year.” […]
“The artists can say, ‘You guys are involved in the gentrification that’s taking place,’ but the bottom line is we’re not creating that gentrification. We love the art, that’s why we published it. And it’s a little bit hard for me to understand why an artist doesn’t want their art published.”
Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate didn’t realize it was doing anything wrong. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate thinks that even if they did do something wrong, well, they apologized, and really isn’t that what counts? Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate just doesn’t understand why artists wouldn’t want their work used to sell luxury homes.
Maybe real estate company Zephyr Real Estate should stick to things it does understand, like its 2010 calendar featuring “the setting for the invention of Chicken Tetrazzini.”
Update January 9th, 11:00am:
Uptown Almanac has obtained part of the calendar in question, and it is easy to see why the artists are so offended. Take the below page—right next to the reproduction of Mona Caron’s mural is a house, rendered in the style of the mural, that Zephyr sold. In a time when many artists are being forced to leave San Francisco due (in part) to exorbitant housing costs, using an artist’s work (without permission) to market a home as “an exceptional investment opportunity” seems particularly tone deaf and offensive.
The mural pictured at the top of the post is by Mona Caron, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and has since been removed. The other artists/plaintiffs are Francisco Aquino, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Jetro Martinez, Sirron Norris, Henry Sultan, Jennifer Badger Sultan and Martin Travers.
[Photo: Mona Caron | h/t Capp Street Crap]