Lawsuit filed in bitter family fight over Frank Frazetta artwork
In another twist in the growing family feud, three children of famed fantasy and comic artist Frank Frazetta have sued their brother to prevent him from selling or reproducing their father’s artwork and claiming to be his authorized representative.
In the lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Frazetta Properties — now managed by siblings Heidi Grabin, Holly Frazetta Taylor and William Frazetta — accuses Alfonso Frank Frazetta of using his Frazetta Art Gallery website to sell lithographs, books, clothing, jewelry, statues, “so-called Masters Collection” reproductions and other items in violation Frank Frazetta’s trademarks and copyrights.
Alfonso, known as Frank Frazetta Jr., is the son arrested in December after he allegedly used a backhoe to break into his father’s museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to steal 90 paintings worth about $20 million. He’s charged with burglary, criminal trespass and theft.
The incident cast a spotlight on a family fight that reportedly began in July 2009 after the death of Frank Sr.’s wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for trademark and copyright infringement, counterfeiting, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and false designation of origin.
In addition to the copyright claims, Frazetta Properties asserts that Frank Jr. is using the trademarked “stylized Frazetta signature” without authorization. It’s noted that while the website offers a service allowing customers to have items signed by the 81-year-old Frazetta for $250, “Mr. Frazetta has not signed any such items for customers since at least July of 2009.”
Frank Jr. also is accused of making unauthorized commercial use of the Death Dealer, and misrepresenting himself as the “authorized representative” of Frank Sr. when a life-size statue of the character was commissioned and erected in September 2009 at Ft. Hood, Texas.
The lawsuit also disputes the authenticity of an agreement that Frank Jr. allegedly made in 2000 with his father and mother that supposedly granted him the authority to represent Frazetta Properties.
But even if the agreement were valid, the plaintiffs allege, it was breached because Frank Sr. hasn’t been paid royalties on any of the sales since July 2009. Further, a Jan. 28, 2010, cease-and-desist letter notified Frank Jr. that he isn’t authorized to sell or license Frank Frazetta original art, prints or related merchandise.