The Banana Legal Battle
Andy Warhol was one of the greatest artists of the pop movement. His re-purposed designs and original pieces were considered revolutionary, and changed the face of the art world forever. Similarly Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground were game changers of the music scene, forming a new foundation that would later give rise to the alternative rock and punk scenes. Both worked closely with one another, with Warhol painting the cover to their seminal album ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ in 1966. Though the album was a commercial failure upon its release, it inspired a generation of musicians, and many now consider it to be one of the single most important rock albums of all time. The album has become a cult favorite, and a must-listen for anyone who considers themselves a serious counterculture aficionado. When Warhol passed in 1987, his respective pieces (and the trademarks therein) passed to the Warhol Foundation.
Unfortunately the friendly collaborations between the respective estates of Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground have come to a halt after it was discovered that the Warhol estate was licensing the distinctive banana cover design without permission (mostly for use with Apple’s iPad and iPhone). Naturally The Velvet Underground took umbrage with this development, as they have sued the Warhol Foundation, claiming that the design should belong to them as most of the public recognizes the design as belonging to their album, and not as an independent Warhol painting (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/velvet-underground-sues-warhol-foundation-fight-rights-artist-iconic-banana-design-article-1.1004638)
The Warhol Foundation has not yet responded to the suit, and it remains to be seen exactly how much of a fight they intend to put up in court. The banana design is an icon of the 1960s music scene, and its licensing rights could prove quite valuable over time.