Many artists are very jealous of their creations and it is quite understandable, after all, they invest a lot of time, mind, and talent in making works of art to make an impact on the world.
It is also obviously their economic support, therefore they are protected within the intellectual property laws to secure the value of their works and ensure that their benefits always fall on their creators.
In 2019, a Roman street artist called Alessia Babrow created a piece that showed an image of Jesus like the one painted in the 19th century by German artist Heinrich Hofmann to which she added a heart in the chest where you could read “just use it”. Her work was depicted on a wall near the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge by the Vatican.
Mauro Olivieri, director of the Vatican Philatelic Office indicated that one day he was passing by the site and was captivated by the image which he decided to photograph. A few months later, the Vatican began selling special stamps for Easter 2020 that showed an image of the work created by Babrow.
Alessia says that she did not immediately find out about the use of her work but that she saw a post on Instagram and it was there that she realized that the Vatican had been using her creation without authorization. When reviewing the legal parameters of the stamp on the Vatican’s website the church only recognized Hofmann as the author of the work, without any mention of Alessia.
“I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought it was a joke. The real shock was that you don’t expect certain things from certain organizations ”said Babrow.
After communicating several times with Vatican authorities, the institution still did not recognize the authorship of the work and instead offered Alessia some gift stamps and a meeting with the Pope, which she declined.
Now, she has decided to initiate legal action against the Vatican under European legislation that protects works of street art as well as those considered more traditional.
The court will hear the case in December of this year and Alessia’s claim is for at least $160,000 in compensation for the unauthorized use of her work and damages caused. This interesting story will continue to be talked about in the coming months.