Case 6:13-cv-01397-MC

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Carl D. Crowell, OSB No. 982049 email: crowell@kite.com CROWELL LAW P.O. Box 923 Salem, OR 97308 (503) 581-1240 Of attorneys for plaintiff UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF OREGON EUGENE DIVISION INDEPENDENCE COLLECTION, LLC, Plaintiff, v. TALA MADANI, Defendant. OWNERSHIP ATTRIBUTION 17 USC §106A COMPLAINT DECLARATORY JUDGMENT INJUNCTIVE RELIEF Case No.: 6:13-cv-01397

COMPLAINT DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OF OWNERSHIP Plaintiff Independence Collection, LLC, alleges: NATURE OF THE ACTION 1. This is a civil action for a declaratory judgment to hold plaintiff is the proper and true

owner of a collection of works by artist Tala Madani, and for an injunction permitting plaintiff to freely sell such works without further interference, and to establish what, if any rights Tala Madani may have under 17 USC §106A, or any other law, to impair or claim damages for the sale of any of her works owned by Independence Collection, LLC.

COMPLAINT

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THE PARTIES 2. Plaintiff Independence Collection, LLC, is an Oregon Limited Liability Company with a

principal place of business in Albany, Oregon. 3. On information and belief, Tala Madani is an Iranian born artist, residing principally in

Los Angeles, California, represented by Pilar Corrias Gallery, London, UK (offices). JURISDICTION AND VENUE 4. This action is pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §106A, the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §

2201 and other relevant laws. 5. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1338(a),

2201(a) and 2202. 6. This Court has diversity jurisdiction in that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000,

pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332. 7. This Court has quasi in rem jurisdiction over the defendant in that the majority of the

subject matter of this controversy, namely the paintings, were placed in Oregon by defendant, have at all times relevant remained in Oregon, and are expected to remain in Oregon throughout these proceedings. 8. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b) and (c) because a substantial

part of the events which give rise to the claims herein occurred in this district, and because the subject matter of this action was placed in this district by defendant and remains in this district. 9. On information and belief, defendant maintains ties to this jurisdiction and continues to

avail herself of the benefits of this jurisdiction. ///

COMPLAINT

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BACKGROUND AND GENERAL ALLEGATIONS 10. Plaintiff is the lawful owner of 114 paintings by defendant, collectively referred to as The

Independence Collection, purchased at auction from Polk County Storage, Independence, Oregon after defendant failed to maintain payments for storage. 11. Defendant is the artist Tala Madani, an internationally renowned artist born in Iran in

1981, who, prior to obtaining her MFA from Yale University in 2006, and being collected by such as the Tate Modern, London, UK, and earning numerous other awards, was a student at Oregon State University, winning the President’s Award for Excellence in Art in 2003 and obtaining a BFA in Visual Arts in 2004.1 12. 13. Tala Madani’s work has recently sold at auction for over $30,000.00 for a single canvas. The Independence Collection comprises 114 paintings left by Tala Madani in a storage

locker in Independence, Oregon, and on being abandoned, were lawfully purchased at auction by Brad Daily and Mike Claxton, the principals of plaintiff (“principals” herein). 14. After the purchase of the contents of the storage locker, the principals discovered the

paintings, and through contents of the storage locker were able to identify the owner and author of the paintings. Also found were a number of obvious personal items, including photo ID cards of defendant, personal photographs and negatives, a handwritten journal, and other items. 15. 16. The principals contacted defendant in an attempt to return the personal items. The principals also discussed the return of several of the paintings believed to be of

notable value, but negotiations quickly degenerated. 17. Independent documentation and the defendant’s mother have confirmed the items and

paintings in the storage locker belong to defendant Tala Madani.
1

See generally: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tala_Madani, and http://www.pilarcorrias.com/artists/tala-madani/ (official representation) COMPLAINT Page 3 of 8

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18.

The Phillips Gallery of New York (http://www.phillips.com) agreed to sell a single

painting, Painting #1, Exhibit 1, p. 1, at an auction scheduled for May, 2013, with an estimated sale price of $15,000.00 - $20,000.00. 19. On learning of the scheduled New York auction, it is believed and reported that agents

for Tala Madani contacted The Phillips Gallery and threatened the gallery with suit if the work was listed for sale or sold, denying authenticity, asserting rights under The Visual Artists Rights Act, 17 USC §106A and questioning the legitimacy of plaintiff’s ownership. 20. Due to the interference by defendant and/or her agents, The Phillips Gallery has refused

to sell the work, or any of the other work in The Independence Collection. 21. Defendant, directly or through agents, has improperly interfered with plaintiff’s

prospective economic advantage, legitimate business dealings and right. 22. The principals have also been contacted directly by counsel for Tala Madani and have

been informed that though the works are “largely created by Tala Madani,” many being clearly signed and recorded as featured in formal Tala Madani gallery shows, the defendant now disclaims the works and threatened, “should [plaintiff] sell or seek to sell the Paintings as artworks by Tala Madani this would be a misrepresentation” and “a criminal offence.” Additionally, counsel for Tala Madani threatened any sale, in addition to criminal penalties, would subject plaintiff to claims under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. 17 USC §106A. 23. 24. On information and belief, all of the works shown in Exhibit 1 are those of Tala Madani. Many of the works are clearly signed on the front or back of the canvas, though it is

noted that Painting #41 has on its backside a painting apparently by another party. Exhibit 1, p. 41.

COMPLAINT

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25.

Paintings #56, 57, and 58, though differing in style, are believed to be the works of Tala

Madani painted around when she was in the 6th grade, as confirmed by her mother. 26. Paintings #65-101 are believed, as supported by independent confirming photographic

evidence, to be a part of an installation by Tala Madani, as are a number of other paintings in the collection. 27. On information an belief the works of Tala Madani are general intended for use in

commerce as evidenced by various records of being offered for sale by third parties and notations and markings on the works including notations such as that on Painting 49, which states, “Protest, mixed media, Tala madani, Inquire for price: madanit@onid.orst.edu.” Exhibit 1, p. 49. COUNT I DECLARATORY RELIEF – QUIET TITLE 28. 29. Plaintiff incorporates the above allegations and further alleges: Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that plaintiff is the sole and lawful owner of the

114 works comprising The Independence Collection, specifically described and presented in the attached Exhibit 1, with all rights thereto. COUNT II INJUNCTIVE RELIEF – NON-INTERFERENCE 30. 31. Plaintiff incorporates the above allegations and further alleges: Defendant, directly and/or through agents has interfered with plaintiff’s legitimate

prospective business advantage by threating plaintiff’s principals and The Phillips Gallery and foreclosing the sale of at least one work.

COMPLAINT

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32.

Defendant’s interference was willful and with knowledge of the economic harm caused,

and the falsity of the claims and threats were made with the sole purpose of wrongfully preventing the lawful and proper sale of a painting by Tala Madani. 33. At the time of defendant’s interference, plaintiff had a signed contract for the sale of the

work and with the potential for other works to also be sold. 34. Had defendant refrained from such improper interference, plaintiff would have been

expected to obtain an economic benefit of at least $15,000.00 for the first work, and such further benefit from each additional sale of over the one hundred (100) paintings comprising The Independence Collection. 35. On information and belief, and based on express statements by defendant’s counsel,

defendant or defendant’s agents will actively interfere with and impair any future attempts to sell any of the 114 works that comprise The Independence Collection. 36. Plaintiff seeks an injunction against defendant and all of those working with or on behalf

of defendant from interfering or impairing any future lawful sales of The Independence Collection. COUNT III DECLARATORY RELIEF - 17 USC § 106A 37. 38. Plaintiff incorporates the above allegations and further alleges: Defendant has stated an express intent to seek relief under 17 USC § 106A against

plaintiff and the principals should plaintiff sell or attempt to sell any of the works of The Independence Collection. 39. This is an immediate and real controversy that is causing injury to plaintiff and unless

enjoined will continue to cause harm to plaintiff.

COMPLAINT

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40.

While 17 USC § 106A(a)(1)(B), permits an author to prevent the use of her name as the

author of a work, such a right is limited to work “she did not create.” 41. Defendant is the true and proper author of the 114 works that comprise The Independence

Collection, attached as Exhibit 1, and as such defendant has no rights under 17 USC § 106A(a)(1)(B). 42. There has been no distortion, mutilation, or other modification of any of the works in The

Independence Collection which would be prejudicial to the honor or reputation of defendant. 43. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that the sale of any of the 114 works that comprise

The Independence Collection as shown in Exhibit 1, as works of Tala Madani shall not violate any rights of defendant under 17 USC § 106A.

NOTICE OF FURTHER CLAIMS 44. 45. Plaintiff incorporates the above allegations and further alleges: Defendant’s willful conduct has intentionally caused plaintiff real and actual economic

harm in impairing the sale of the 114 works that comprise The Independence Collection in an amount to be proved at trial that exceeds $250,000.00.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays for relief as follows: I. For entry of a judgment declaring plaintiff to be the lawful and sole owner of the 114 works that comprise The Independence Collection;

COMPLAINT

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II. For entry of a permanent injunction enjoining defendant and her agents from interfering with or impairing the lawful sale of any of the 114 works that comprise The Independence Collection; III. For entry of a judgment declaring that the sale of any of the 114 works that comprise The Independence Collection as shown in Exhibit 1, as works of Tala Madani shall not violate any rights of defendant under 17 USC § 106A; and IV. For such other and further relief as the Court shall deem proper. DATED: August 11, 2013.

Respectfully submitted, CROWELL LAW /s/ Carl D. Crowell Carl D. Crowell, OSB No. 982049 (503) 581-1240 Of attorneys for the plaintiff VERIFICATION I, Brad Daily, a principal and co-owner of Independence Collection, LLC, have personal knowledge of the facts set forth in the forgoing Complaint and if called to testify would do so competently. I verify under penalty of perjury of the laws of the United States of America that to the best of my knowledge the allegations in the foregoing Complaint are true and correct except as to the matters asserted on information and belief. Dated: _August 11, 2013__ /s/ Brad Daily Brad Daily

COMPLAINT

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