Val Kilmer, the “Top Gun” and “Batman Forever” actor who turned to art, has been accused of ripping off an artist and is being taken to court. But Kilmer is demanding the lawsuit be thrown out—and even says the man is harassing him.
According to a report in The Blast, Texas-based sculptor Bale Creek Allen filed a lawsuit last fall claiming that Kilmer stole his idea for a golden tumbleweed sculpture. Allen, who has been selling his own tumbleweed sculptures for several years through galleries in Texas and New Mexico—including one he runs himself—asserts that that actor knowingly took his concept and copyrighted means of production.
Allen claims that Kilmer contacted him about buying one of his sculptures before the actor decided they were out of his price range. Then, in 2016, Allen says he discovered a similar work by Kilmer, cast in 22 karat gold, which was allegedly sold for $150,000.
Last year, Kilmer, who primarily works in enamel paint on metal, wrote about his tumbleweed sculpture on Facebook, commenting: “I’m so happy to finally have [a] place to sell my beloved 22kt tumbleweed. It’s on display for an astronomical price I’m slightly embarrassed to say but the darn thing costs a pretty penny just to make (the foundry has never been able to bronze anything remotely this thin but we figured it out!).”
The post includes a picture of the artist in front of his work.
In court documents obtained by The Blast, Kilmer’s lawyers say the actor “specifically denies that he has infringed or is liable for infringement of any purported copyright held by Mr. Allen.” They also accuse Allen of “misuse of copyright by filing unmeritorious and sham claims” and say his lawsuit is being pursued “with the intent and effect of harassing Mr. Kilmer.”
According to Kilmer’s website, he has shown his art in “galleries and pop-up shows across the US.” The website also has works for sale, many of them being round paintings with the word “LOVE” written in stenciled letters. Some feature the word written atop depictions of Kilmer’s most famous characters: Jim Morrison, Batman, and Iceman from “Top Gun.”
This is just the latest development in what’s becoming an increasingly messy—and public—fight. Earlier this year, according to The Blast, Allen requested an extension in the case because he couldn’t locate Kilmer to serve him with the suit. Eventually, a process server nailed Kilmer at a screening and Q&A for one of the actor’s plays.
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