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Yayoi Kusama Considering Legal Action after a Number of Fake Exhibitions Appear in China

Shows featuring counterfeit work by the Japanese artist Kusama and her compatriot Takashi Murakami, have appeared in at least six Chinese cities

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Yayoi Kusama, Flower Obsession, 2017, exhibition view, NGV Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2017. Courtesy: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; photograph: Eugene Hyland

Yayoi Kusama, Flower Obsession, 2017, exhibition view, NGV Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2017. Courtesy: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; photograph: Eugene Hyland

Yayoi Kusama, one of the world’s most recognizable artists famous for her polka dot pumpkins and installations, is considering legal action after it was discovered that several exhibitions in China have presented counterfeit works falsely credited to the artist.

Exhibitions showing fake work by the Japanese artist Kusama and her compatriot Takashi Murakami, have reportedly taken place in at least six Chinese cities including Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Neither artist was aware of the exhibitions, nor had any involvement in their staging.

Kusama’s lawyer, Yoshifumi Onodera, has already successfully closed down one show in Shanghai which opened in September, as reported by the Nikkei Asian Review. The exhibition was changing a GBP£7.70 (USD$10) admission fee.

Another show, a Kusama-Murakami double bill in Changsha, Hunan Province, which is still open to the public, has also been charging a GBP£7.70 entrance fee, Japanese media has reported.

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An alleged Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami exhibition in Wuhan, China. Courtesy: CN Hubei News

An alleged Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami exhibition in Wuhan, China. Courtesy: CN Hubei News

Images of a white room covered in red polka dots, clearly resembling Kusama’s iconic Obliteration Room (2002–ongoing), have appeared on a Chinese news website. The exhibition reportedly took place in Wuhan.

The Yayoi Kusama Foundation issued a statement saying: ‘such actions are a serious infringement of the artist’s copyright and international fame and brand and harm the interests of the foundation [...] These dishonest acts are a violation of public morals and decency of a notably malicious nature, and are a contemptible transgression of the originality and copyrights of all artists.’

Onodera is attempting to identify the organizers of the fraudulent exhibitions which were allegedly organized by a Chinese company that approached the venues. Kusama’s lawyer is considering both civil and criminal action. Murakami’s lawyer, Hiroshi Kamiyama is also considering taking legal action and has condemned the exhibitions, calling them ‘extremely malicious.’

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