Editor’s note: In our original version of this story, we reported that Steidl was ordered to pay damages for missing prints belonging to photographer Lawrence Schwarzwald. Attorneys for Steidl say the court did not order payment for damages, “but only to return those proof prints” to Schwarzwald.
A German court has ordered the book publisher Steidl pay photographer Lawrence Schwartzwald €65,000 ($77,392) in damages for accidentally discarding or destroying 49 portfolio prints, according to an Artnet News report
Schwartzwald’s collection of candid photographs showed New Yorkers reading. He sent the 49 prints to Steidl in 2014 hoping to have them published as a book. According to Schwartzwald, Steidl notified him in 2015 that the work wouldn’t be published. He told Artnet News that he asked Steidl to “please return my portfolio prints.”
They never arrived, so Schwartzwald sued the publisher in 2016. He valued the prints at $1,200 each.
Gerhard Steidl, publisher and company founder, told Artnet News that he didn’t reject Schwartzwald’s book; he just couldn’t publish it quickly enough, so Schwartzwald asked Steidl to return the prints.
But Steidl admitted that he had lost Schwartzwald’s work. “It just couldn’t be found,” he told Artnet News. “I didn’t sell it, auction it, or put it under my bed, it’s just not there anymore.”
Steidl’s lawyers told Artnet News that the prints were “most likely shredded according to the usual office procedures, as senders do not typically ask for the return of portfolio proofs.” (In 2013, Steidl told PDN that he receives 1,200 unsolicited book proposals per year.)
The lawyers called the situation “regrettable.”
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