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Kim Kardashian is Sued for Saying Her Tables Are Authentic Donald Judds

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In a video where Kim Kardashian tours the offices of her Skkn by Kim company, she points out the glam rooms, theater and kitchen of her sprawling 40,000-square-foot space, all drenched in several rosy hues of beige.

It is sparsely furnished, in keeping with what Kardashian has described as her love for the calming influence of minimalist design.

Even the furniture tends to be minimalist chic.

“These Donald Judd tables are really amazing,” Kardashian says, speaking of an artist widely celebrated for his genius with simple forms, “and totally blend in with the seats.”

Except that the dining set is not by Donald Judd, according to the nonprofit foundation that represents his legacy. It sued the celebrity on Wednesday, accusing her of making false claims.

Also named in the lawsuit was Clements Design, which the court papers say produced the tables and chairs that resemble those designed by Judd. The foundation is accusing the company of trademark and copyright infringement.

“Consumers are likely to believe Judd Foundation and the Donald Judd brand are connected or affiliated with, or otherwise sponsored or endorsed Ms. Kardashian,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. “Judd Foundation categorically prohibits customers from using purchased Donald Judd furniture for marketing and promotional purposes.”

Ms. Kardashian declined to comment on Wednesday, but Clements Design released a statement saying there were “obvious key differences” between the furnishings and that the company felt “blindsided” by the lawsuit since there had been efforts “made to resolve this issue amicably.” The design company said that the Judd Foundation “was unwilling to settle on reasonable terms. These claims have absolutely no merit.”

The dispute began in 2022, when Kardashian put out a video on YouTube that has since received more than 3.6 million views. Partway through the video, she pauses in the kitchen of her California office, where there are tables and chairs that evoke two Judd designs: La Mansana Table 22 and Chair 84. (The video was taken down on Wednesday after the lawsuit was filed.)

The Judd furniture (the table costs $90,000 and only three authentic copies have been sold in the last 15 years) are part of how the foundation earns money, a representative for the foundation. The chairs cost $9,000 each. More than 350 chairs have been sold, according to the foundation, which stamps and numbers each one.

“The furniture is integral to our financial stability,” said Rainer Judd, the artist’s daughter and the president of his foundation, who added that revenue from the designs accounted for nearly half of the organization’s earned income.

Three days after the video first appeared, the Judd Foundation says, it contacted Ms. Kardashian about the furniture. A spokeswoman responded to the complaint, according to the lawsuit, saying they were “incredibly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused the foundation” and offering to “update the video caption with a retraction.”

But the Judd Foundation wanted the video deleted, the furniture “recycled” (i.e. destroyed) and Ms. Kardashian to issue a public statement.

Representatives for Ms. Kardashian countered with an offer to make a social media post in which she supported the foundation, the foundation said in court papers.

Ultimately the negotiations broke down, and the dispute is headed to court.

Clements Design, based in West Hollywood, helped design the Kardashian office in Los Angeles. It has argued that its furniture differed materially from the artist’s creations.

“It is simply not true that Clements Design commissioned imitation Donald Judd tables,” wrote the lawyer, John Ulin, to the foundation, adding that the wood type and overall proportions were different. “They are different tables with different designs.”

In its statement Wednesday, Clement said the company believed the issue had been already settled. “The Judd Foundation’s prior counsel acknowledged these differences and since then, we have not heard from them in over a year,” the statement said.

But the foundation pointed to an invoice from Clements Design in which it described the furniture as “in the style of Donald Judd” and included an image owned by the Judd Foundation of the authentic dining set.

“It is lower quality than Donald Judd’s furniture,” said Megan Bannigan, a lawyer representing the foundation. “We don’t want to be mixed up with Kim Kardashian. We respect what she does, but we don’t want to be involved with this.”

Before dying in 1994, Judd fiercely protected the authenticity of his creations. In 1990, he criticized Giuseppe Panza, an Italian art collector who created some sculptures based on the artist’s drawings, but without his direct involvement in some cases. Writing after the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum acquired the works, Judd said the collector had botched his designs with inferior materials.

“Panza doesn’t care,” he wrote. “What I require is too expensive. Consequently, Panza makes mock-ups, fakes.”

(Panza defended the sculptures as authentic and said Judd had agreed to his plan. The Guggenheim, which has used the dispute to study and discuss the parameters of authorship, identifies the sculptures Judd complained about as contested Judds.)

Ms. Judd said the Kardashian case is not too much ado about tables. “We are just doing our job to protect Donald Judd’s work,” she said. “Not every artist foundation has the time or resources to do that.”

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