A downtown Scottsdale art gallery has been denied a federal appeal in a copyright violation case focused on its collection of Renoir statues. The Rima Fine Art gallery was appealing a 2005 ruling by the U.S. District Court that the gallery violated copyright laws by duplicating and selling sculptures by artist Pierre Auguste Renoir.
A civil trial is set for Oct. 11 for the opposing side, the French trust Societe Civile Succession Richard Guino, which is suing for damages.
Court records claim that the Societe obtained the copyrights years ago to any reproductions of the statues of Renoir and his collaborator, Richard Guino.
In 2003, the Societe sued the Rima Fine Art gallery and its parent company, Beseder, when it found the gallery advertising “original Renoir sculptures.”
The two sides have fought their way through the court system, appealing decisions to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 26, the court denied the gallery’s petition to appeal.
The October trial will allow the Societe to prove the number of copyright violations and ask for damages. There are several violations, and laws allow $750 to $150,000 per violation. So “it could be significant,” said Richard Morris, attorney for the Societe.
All pieces seized from the gallery are impounded at a Scottsdale pubic storage company, he said.
“We’d like all of the unauthorized pieces returned so we can destroy them,” he said.
Tracy Penwell, president of Rima Fine Art, said she could not comment on the case but remains confident she will prevail in the end.