Blowup

You've seen the revolutionary photo, now here's the soap opera

Fidel Alberto notes that for several years, at his father's request, he has pursued financial support for the preservation project from photography firms such as Leica AG. He uses his own computers to do the work. "This is done by means of digitalizing the original negatives and then retouching every negative to perfection," he explains. Reproduction of negatives is important so that originals need not be handled and thus made to deteriorate in the making of prints.

Dante, however, believes that most of his father's unpublished photos of the revolution aren't worth much. "My father was a very lucky photographer, not a good photographer." He thinks a few have artistic value, such as "Quixote of the Lamppost" (a farmer perched on top of a lamppost above a large crowd); "Fidel in Washington" (Castro in fatigues looking up at the Lincoln Memorial); and "Heroic Guerrilla."

Dante believes the Castro regime still makes money off his father's work but can't state precisely how much. "It's a lot of money, though," he assures. "The Cuban government doesn't ask permission and it doesn't pay." Moreover no one is sure exactly to whom Korda may have sold reprint rights outside of Cuba. Despite the Smirnoff case, use of Korda's photographs already in the public domain is free, Dante observes. "The people who are using Korda's work are going to continue using it. They aren't ever going to pay our family for it."

A Korda moment in 1976 Havana (at top) with Fidel Alberto, Diana, Monica, baby Alejandra, Norka junior, and Dante; another in 2000 (above) with Diana, Norka, and Alejandra
photos Courtesy Alejandra Diaz
A Korda moment in 1976 Havana (at top) with Fidel Alberto, Diana, Monica, baby Alejandra, Norka junior, and Dante; another in 2000 (above) with Diana, Norka, and Alejandra

Whether Diana can or wants to cash in on reproductions of her father's work remains to be seen. But last week she was confirmed as the sole heiress of her father's negatives, along with the Lada and the money for Korda's apartment. The judge presiding over the will dispute decided Dante's complaint lacked merit, thus precluding his lawyer from presenting evidence and witnesses. The ruling means the government must pay Diana monetary compensation for her father's apartment, which she cannot own under Cuban law because she already has a home.

From Norway, however, Fidel Alberto hints at challenging el comandante himself for control of the Korda corpus. "Has Mr. Castro ever claimed ownership of my father's artistic work, legally or publicly? Is he protecting it for the future?" he asks. "If this is the case, it is of course a legal matter and will be approached as such."

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