Connect with us

Culture

Julia Sinelnikova, Artist Featured in Museum of Sex Ad, Sues

Published

on

The ads, showing Julia Sinelnikova, an artist, in mid-kiss with someone they were dating at the time, accompanied by text inviting visitors to “journey into the erotic carnival” at the Museum of Sex, started showing up last year all over New York, including in subway cars and on bus shelters.

But Sinelnikova never signed a release giving the museum permission to use the image, which was taken at a photo shoot at the museum in 2019. After the museum rebuffed Sinelnikova’s request for $25,000 in compensation for the use of the image earlier this year, they filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court seeking at least $250,000 in damages. The ex-girlfriend has not filed a complaint or suit.

“It was so egregious, and this was personal,” Sinelnikova said in an interview. “The museum was displaying my dating history to millions of people even though I asked them to stop.”

The lawsuit quotes an email from the museum’s founder and director, Dan Gluck, in which he apologized for the unauthorized use of the artist’s image and added: “I am dumbfounded no one got your permission at the time.”

The museum acknowledged in a statement that Sinelnikova had not signed a release but maintained that the artist had been aware that the 2019 museum photo session “was a professional shoot, as well as what the images from it would be used for.” The museum said that it did not know there was no release until Sinelnikova contacted them in January seeking compensation. Other subjects were paid for their participation, but Sinelnikova was not.

Gluck said in an interview that the Museum of Sex, a for-profit organization, was in the process of removing the image from its advertisements. He said the amount requested in compensation was too high, and noted that Sinelnikova had promoted the pictures on social media when the museum ads first appeared in 2019. “This is just not a fair situation for an independent N.Y.C. museum,” he said. “We will have to do this in court.”

The ads Sinelnikova appeared in promoted the museum’s “Superfunland” exhibition, which includes attractions like a “bouncy castle of breasts” and a “porn screen-test booth,” according to its website. The museum, which opened in 2002 after being rejected by the state for nonprofit status, sells admission tickets priced between $36 and $50. A new version of “Superfunland” recently opened in Miami.

In January, attorneys representing the museum sent Sinelnikova a letter claiming that Sinelnikova’s allegations on social media about the ad campaign were damaging to the museum. They offered $2,000 as payment, according a copy of the letter reviewed by The New York Times.

The artist’s lawyer, Andrew Muchmore, said the problems of consent that Sinelnikova faced were part of a wider issue in the art world.

“This is an industry where the economics are often tight,” Muchmore said. “And that sometimes results in artists’ being exploited. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, it is not legally appropriate to use someone’s image in a marketing campaign without payment or permission.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *