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Judge rules MetaBirkin NFTs cannot be displayed in Stockholm museum

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Judge rules MetaBirkin NFTs cannot be displayed in Stockholm museum

A U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York denied a request for MetaBirkins to be displayed at a museum in Stockholm, citing a lack of details about how the exhibit would describe the NFTs for the public.

Last February, Hermès won a lawsuit against Mason Rothschild (aka Sonny Estival) about Rothschild’s “MetaBirkins” NFT collection, 3D renderings of the company’s iconic Birkin bag covered in fur in a variety of patterns.

A jury ruled that Rothschild’s NFTs failed a test that would allow them to be considered art. The luxury handbag company was supposed to receive US$133,000 in compensation. Hermès too asked for a permanent injunction against Rothschild, which was granted in June.

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Documents filed on March 13 detail how Rothschild asked whether the injunction would prohibit him from providing the Spritmuseum with permission to display the MetaBirkins. The works should appear on a screen in a Andy Warhol exhibition and his Business Art practice.

According to Rothschild, the museum of contemporary art and spirits contacted him just before Christmas last year about displaying the MetaBirkins on a screen, “just as the images are available on the Internet.”

Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that based on the evidence, “the Court cannot conclude” that MetaBirkins would avoid the terms of the injunction, as Rothschild did not provide details about what permissions he would grant Spritmuseum for things like promoting the show or related merchandise. There were also no contracts or documents describing the agreement Rothschild had with the museum or the scope of permissions granted to the institution in Stockholm.

The court documents also feature sworn testimony from Spritmuseum curator Mia Sundberg and Blake Gopnika New York-based critic enlisted to organize the Warhol show only raised more concerns about Rothschild’s request.

Sundberg said the museum has not yet decided whether to discuss the Hermès lawsuit in the exhibition text. Although the text was written “openly,” she said, “I wouldn’t tell my audience that this is an artist who is a fraud. That would not be a way of expressing myself in an exhibition text.”

Gopnik was hired by Rothschild as an expert witness during the trial, but the court excluded his testimony, “finding that it did not even remotely meet the requirement of the Federal Rule of Evidence.” Shortly after the ruling last February, Gopnik also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “A Misguided Jury Failed to See Mason Rothschild’s MetaBirkins Artwork“.

The judge highlighted two lines from Gopnik’s op-ed that indicated he was “openly hostile” to the jury’s verdict last year: “I could see no real difference between Rothschild and the many artists, good and bad, who made art about the commerce of our culture, often including trademarked products” and “I was wrong about that jury, but I hope an appeals court realizes that the jury was wrong about Rothschild’s art.”

As a result of his testimony, the judge expressed “deep concerns” that allowing Rothschild to provide permission to the Spritmuseum “would likely lead the public to believe that ‘MetaBirkins’ NFTs or related merchandise are in [some] manner associated or connected with Hermes and/or its trademark and/or trade dress ‘Birkin’.”

The Spritmuseum and Sundberg did not respond to press inquiries from ARTnews.

News of the judge’s decision was first reported by Bloomberg Law.

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We are the editorial team of TokenTalk, where seriousness meets clarity in cryptocurrency analysis. With a robust team of finance and blockchain technology experts, we are dedicated to meticulously exploring complex crypto markets with detailed assessments and an unbiased approach. Our mission is to democratize access to knowledge of emerging financial technologies, ensuring they are understandable and accessible to all. In every article on TokenTalk, we strive to provide content that not only educates, but also empowers our readers, facilitating their integration into the financial digital age.

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