March 29th, 2013

David LaChapelle’s Former Agent Counter Sues for $75 Million

In what appears to be a tit for tat legal action in a messy business divorce, celebrity and pop art photographer David LaChapelle has been hit with a $75 million lawsuit by the former manager he sued last year for about $3.5 million.

Fred Torres, who managed LaChapelle’s relationships with clients, galleries and museums until last fall, alleges that the photographer breached their photographer/agent agreement, stole Torres’s customer lists, and is refusing to pay millions of dollars in expenses and commissions due to Torres.

Torres filed his lawsuit March 27 in state supreme court in Manhattan.

He alleges that LaChapelle fired him without notice, destroying Torres’s reputation and business in the process. Torres claims that he’s owed more than $5 million in expenses for printing LaChapelle’s work for exhibitions and print sales, and upwards of $20 million in past and future commissions for exhibition contracts and print sales that he brokered.

Torres also claims that LaChapelle surreptitiously hired away Torres’s employees in order to help him (LaChapelle) steal Torres customers lists and other proprietary data. Torres values the stolen information at $40-50 million.

“In or about mid-2012, the photographer defendants created a plan to try to steal [Torres's] extensive share of proceeds and steal its business,” Torres says in the lawsuit.

In addition to naming LaChapelle as a defendant, Torres also names the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which is LaChapelle’s new exclusive agent, and the former employees who allegedly conspired with LaChapele to steal customers lists and stored prints.

Torres is seeking $55 million in damages from the Paul Kasmin Gallery.

The damage claims include punitive damage, because the alleged actions of the defendants were “the product of malice, ill will, and spite,” Torres says in court papers.

Torres says in his lawsuit that he dated LaChapelle in the 1990s, after which they continued a business relationship. In 2008, when Torres opened a gallery and began representing works by other photographers, too, he and LaChapelle signed a brief written agreement to formalize their business relationship.

LaChapelle claimed in his lawsuit against Torres late last year that Torres was withholding $2.8 million owed to LaChapelle for sales of his prints. He also alleged that Torres owed him $755,000 worth of personal loans, and that Torres was refusing to return 800 exhibitions prints that were stashed in storage facilities around the world.

LaChapelle’s claim against Torres is still pending, and the photographer has not yet responded to Torres’s counter-claim.

Related:
David LaChapelle Sues Former Manager
David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Former Gallerist
Rihanna Settles Copyright Lawsuit with David LaChapelle
PPE 2012: David LaChapelle Gets Personal

March 7th, 2013

David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Gallerist

A Montana gallerist has sued David LaChapelle for $3 million dollars, alleging the photographer attacked him in his Manhattan apartment on March 9, 2012.

The suit, filed yesterday by James Parmenter in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that in the middle of the night, LaChapelle threw Permanter around his apartment, choked him “nearly to the point of unconsciousness,” then threw him out into the street. He is suing LaChapelle for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking a minimum of $1 million for each cause of action.

A digital copy of Parmenter’s lawsuit is available here.

Parmenter is the director of Bigfork Collaborations in Bigfork, Montana. According to an article in a local newspaper, the gallery space was funded by Fred Torres, a gallerist and LaChapelle’s former manager. In December 2012, LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against Torres, claiming that Torres owed him more than $2.8 million from the sales of of LaChapelle’s works and from a personal loan.

In the suit filed yesterday, Permanter claims that he is still experiencing physical and emotional difficulties as a result of the assault.

December 28th, 2012

David LaChapelle Sues Former Manager

Photographer David LaChapelle has sued his former manager, alleging he is owed $2.8 million for sales of his photographs and $755,000 for personal loans, the New York Post has reported.

LaChapelle filed the claim against Fred Torres, whom he hired in 2005 “under a handshake agreement” to arrange exhibitions, provide career advice, and manage LaChapelle’s relationships with clients, galleries, and museums.

In addition to the claims for money allegedly owed by Torres, LaChapelle alleges in his lawsuit that Torres is refusing to return 800 exhibition prints that are now stashed in storage facilities around the world.

According to the Post report, LaChapelle ended his business relationship with Torres a month ago.

Related stories:
PPE 2012: David LaChapelle Gets Personal
David LaChapelle: Artist or Artless ?
Rihanna Settles Lawsuit with David LaChapelle
David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement

October 26th, 2012

PPE 2012: David LaChapelle Gets Personal

David LaChapelle began making photographs in the early Eighties in New York City while around him friends were dying of AIDS. His early black and white photos, shot by window light and manipulated in the darkroom through bleaching, burning or collaging, explored “metaphysical themes” of mortality and transcendence through religious imagery – winged figures, crosses and bodies bathed in a celestial light. After a hugely successful career as a commercial photographer, video director and documentary filmmaker, LaChapelle has recently returned to “metaphysical themes that still interest me.” In his keynote at PhotoPlus Expo, he showed the work he’s recently shown in galleries and museums:  images using religious iconography, images of transcendence, and vintage work that was rarely seen. Since 2005, he has not shot a fashion assignment. “I didn’t burn out, as some people have written. I walked away.”

While showing the audience an early photo he made as a memorial to a friend who died of AIDS at the age of 24, LaChapelle explained, “I didn’t think I’d be around very long. I wanted to give the world something of beauty.”

(more…)

October 13th, 2011

Rihanna Settles Copyright Lawsuit with David LaChapelle

The copyright infringement case that forced a Federal judge to evaluate the originality of sadomasochistic motifs has ended in a settlement. Pop singer Rihanna has reached an out-of-court settlement agreement with photographer David LaChapelle, who sued her earlier this year for copyright infringement. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

LaChapelle was seeking at least $1 million in damages from Rihanna,  alleging that some scenes from the video for her hit single called “S&M” were rip-offs of sadomasochistic images LaChapelle had created and published over the years.

The full news story on the case is now on PDNOnline.

Related Story

David LaChapelle Wins Pre-Trial Ruling Against Rihanna
You Be the Judge: Did Rihanna Infringe David LaChapelle’s Work?