Aholsniffsglue, American Eagle Outfitters Reach Settlement in Copyright Lawsuit
It looks like American Eagle Outfitters just bought the Magic City's favorite street artist, Aholsniffsglue, a diamond-studded platinum grill.
This past summer, Ahol -- whose real name is David Anasagasti -- sued the corporate Goliath for copyright infringement after AEO hijacked his trademark sleepy-eyeball motif for a worldwide marketing blitz promoting its spring fashion line without compensating the artist.
But in the legal stare-down between both parties that has drawn international attention, it was AEO that blinked first. The retail giant, which last year reported revenues exceeding $3 billion, has chosen to settle out of court in the case that has been watched closely by artists across the globe.
The Manhattan firm of Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC, the same outfit that represented Miami's Borscht Corporation when the NBA threatened an injunction against the local organization's screening of The Adventures of Chris Bosh in the Multiverse, represented Ahol in his copyright complaint.
When contacted for comment yesterday, law firm partner Andrew Gerber reported that Ahol and AEO have reached a mutually acceptable settlement but that the terms of the agreement were confidential.
"All I can say is that the dispute was resolved amicably and the action [lawsuit] has been terminated," Gerber declared.
For Ahol, who has been busy preparing for Miami Art Week, the settlement marks an end to a nightmare.
As part of its ad campaign earlier this year, AEO went as far as posing a clean-cut model holding a blue spray-paint can in front of Ahol's mural Ocean Grown on NW 27th Street, implying that their model and not Ahol, a heavily tattooed and bearded Cuban who sports a gold grill, had painted the artwork.
AEO then plastered the resulting image everywhere, from a billboard at Houston Street and Broadway in New York City to in-store displays worldwide; on the company's Facebook page, Instagram feed, and YouTube channel; and in storefronts from Colombia to Japan.
During a store opening in Medellín, Colombia, American Eagle hired three local graffiti rats to re-create another of Ahol's works on an eight-foot wooden panel and layer the company's logo over the iconic eyeballs for added impact. Ironically, the three men later posed over their shoddy handiwork wearing American Eagle T-shirts.
But instead of dragging Ahol through the courts, AEO chose to pay the artist rather than risk taking a greater public relations hit to its brand due to the retailer's commercially wanton appropriation of his works.
"I really can't comment on the settlement," Ahol says. "I'm just glad the case is over. It's been a burden on me, but I finally woke up this morning free from all that stress."
This Friday night, if AEO corporate honchos are in town for Art Basel, they can snag some positive publicity at the Mokai in South Beach during the Aholsniffsglue Backyard BBQ, where they can even get tattoos of his signature eyeball, available to anyone for free.
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