Robot 6

Lawsuit filed in bitter family fight over Frank Frazetta artwork

"Death Dealer," by Frank Frazetta

"Death Dealer," by Frank Frazetta

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.

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11 Comments

This right here? A perfect display of an excellent reason never to have children.

Also, “Kids” from the Popeye movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a-JcraSl84&feature=PlayList&p=EAC11B53604CBD46&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7

So is this the death of Image’s Frazetta Comics line? Because I’m pretty sure they did most of their dealing with Frank, Jr.

March 16, 2010

Frank Frazetta is a visionary painter. I grew up reading those scfi novels because his work was used for their covers. It is sad to think in the twilight of his life, his family would be tore apart by his son’s avarice.

That aside, a Frank Frazetta painting reproduced results in reproductions. Lithographs, as an artist who creates them and as a scholar who documents with authority, are original works of visual art just like Frank Frazetta’s paintings.

In other words, Frank Frazetta reproductions are -not- lithographs.

Therefore, the misrepresentation, with or without intent, of reproductions of Frank Frazetta’s paintings as lithographs, is troubling since it undermines his legacy and poisons the marketplace against legitimate artists who create lithographs, much less those who sell fully disclosed reproductions.

You see, lithographs versus reproductions are not interchangeable, much less the same. Under U.S. Customs Informed Compliance May 2006, lithographs “must be wholly executed by hand by the artist” and “excludes any mechanical and photomechanical processes.”

In lay terms, notice in a so-called lithograph from a painting, a {reproduced} signature in the image and usually an artist pencil/pen signature below. When a painting with a signature is reproduced, it reproduces the signature (obviously). So, when the artist signs the resulting reproductions, you end up with what looks like two signatures (once again one reproduced in the image and a second usually below in pencil/pen).

It is a dead giveaway that it is a reproduction. Why sign twice? (Of course one is actually reproduced.)

Finally, these legal issues surrounding his family’s avarice may be resolved but the continued misrepresentation of reproductions of Frank Frazetta’s paintings as original works of visual art ie., lithographs may eventually undermine his legacy and bring in serious questions of law to those who would profit at the consumer’s expense and unfairly compete against artists in the marketplace.

In closing, with full and honest disclosure to Frank Frazetta reproductions as reproductions, the consumer might be able to give informed consent on whether to purchase one or not and with that kind of transparency, I wish Frank Frazetta and his family harmony and much success.

Respectfully,

Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
Fernandina Beach, Florida

In my opinion, most of the Frazetta autographs/signatures over the past ten years have been done by Frank Jr.. There is a marked difference, even accounting for the strokes, they are the signatures of someone other than Frank Sr. I also find it sad that various individuals have taken advantage of the Frazettas’ over the years, including certain “authorities” who used friendship for financial gain and a recent business agreement in which many originals have suddenly popped up in the collections of so-called “business partners”.

I’ve been noticing that art has been showing up in certain collections as well, and it seems an odd coincidence. Only know what has been said by Frank in documentaries and in print and what is going on seems to be the exact opposite of Frank’s public statements regarding his originals. Don’t know anyone involved personally but it just reeks of the same old story regarding the assets of elderly parents I see and hear play out over and over again. Elderly people need better protection from family and other people who seek to gain by hurting them. Reading the above article and the one attached is heartbreaking.
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100224/NEWS/2240332/-1/NEWS

Gary Arseneau-

Very interesting post about lithography but I’m lost as to how it relates to Frazetta. The ‘Masters’ Reproductions on his site are not referred to as lithographs and neither are the prints. They have a few lithographs available from long ago, are you suggesting that those are not legitimate?

Charlie C…

Sorry. No one cares that you are a lithography scholar. You sound like you are living in the wrong era.

“Poster”…”print”…”lithograph.” We all know it is not an original painting. The term lithograph has been mis-used for over 150 years.

March 24, 2010

Here is a prime example of a reproductions of Frank Frazetta’s paintings being misrepresented, with or without intent, by “Live Auctioneers” as an original work of visual art ie., lithograph:

Lot 814
Frank Frazetta Signed & Numbered

ARTIST: Frank Frazetta
TITLE: Countess
DATE: 1988
MEDIUM: Lithograph
SIGNED: Ink Signed – Lower Right
NUMBERED: Numbered in Ink from an edition of 500 pieces – Lower Right
DIMENSIONS:25 X 31 in. (paper), 39 X 38 in. (framed)
CONDITION: Excellent Condition, not examined outside of the frame.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
This piece can be seen on the internet for $5500.00.
An appraisal for this piece, by a certified independant appraiser from the International Fine Art Appraisers Association (IFAA), is available for an additional $50.00.
The link is: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/1218048

This is a non-disclosed reproduction/poster.

The internet is flooded with these non-disclosed reproduction/posters of Frazetta’s paintings being misrepresented as original works of visual ie., lithographs which are no different than any other original works of visual art such as a painting. In other words, if the artist created it, it is an original. If someone reproduces the artist’s work, at best, they’re reproductions.

Remember, lithographs versus reproductions are not interchangeable, much less the same.

Would you pay $5,500 for a poster?

Buyer beware.

Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
Fernandina Beach, Florida

Gary-
Did Frazetta actually make any lithographs at any point? Is that from the same run Frazetta store sells as a lithograph or did an individual just have a posted signed and misrepresented it ?

March 31, 2010

As far as an publication about Frank Frazetta that I have seen, he is a referred to as a -painter-. A very accomplished one at that. If Frank Frazetta created any lithographs, and I believe he was certainly capable of doing so, thats sort of labor intensive creative medium would have most certainly been disclosed by Frank Frazetta himself.

No one I know who draws on a stone, plate or mylar, chemically prepares that image for printing, laboriously prints that edition of original lithographs, and subsequently signs and numbers their edition of original works of art ie., lithographs would not want the public, much less patron, not appreciate how they created it.

That doesn’t even take into account, if an artist creates a color lithograph (multi-color means multi-images drawn on stone, plate or mylar by the artist) and/or hand-paints and/or combines with other mediums their original works of visual art a.k.a. lithographs.

With the abuse of terminology in the marketplace, any artist, who creates original original works of visual art in lithography, etching and the like, cannot afford not to belabor their creative processes. Otherwise the public will dismiss their accomplishments as nothing more than copies.

Unfortunately, as a creator of over 10,000 lithographs, I speak from experience.

Now as for so-called -Frazetta lithographs-, if one Googles -Frank Frazetta- and -lithographs-, one will find hundreds of more websites selling reproductions of Frank Frazetta’s paintings misrepresented as original works of visual art ie., lithographs.

Remember, paintings reproduced results in reproductions, not lithographs. Lithographs would -never- be trivialized as copies of anything, much less a Frank Frazetta painting.

If the unsuspecting patron only knew they were paying hundreds of dollars for nothing more than a poster?

This misrepresentation poisons, with or without intent, the marketplace against legitimate artists who create and sell their lithographs, not mention those who sell fully disclosed reproductions.

In closing, there are many more than I who would argue, have argued and will continue to argue that -lithographs- are copies and/or their copies are lithographs. Respectfully, they could not be more misinformed. To them and those who would believe them, I cite U.S. Customs Informed Compliance Publication, May 2006 that ,in part, states: “lithographs must be wholly executed by hand by the artist and excludes any mechanical and photomechanical processes.”

I hope this addressing some of your questions.

To learn more about what constitutes a lithograph, link to my monograph: http://garyarseneau.blogspot.com/2008/05/currier-ives-lithograph-lie-over-168.html

Buyer Beware,

Gary Arseneau
artist, creator of original lithographs & scholar
Fernandina Beach, Florida

I realize I enter into this discussion very late compared to the previous posts but I will anyway. Just reading the
post regarding lithograghs and the history behind them is enough to confuse people and gives me a headache.
I will attempt to present a few facts to people regarding Frank Frazetta and lithographs. There were in fact
lithographs made of Frazetta paintings (the gentleman is correct when he said the original Frazetta signature
is reproduced that you see on the original oil paintings, he is also correct when he says the artist then signs and
numbers the lithograph, this is Frank’s original signature) I refer to them as lithographs because that’s how Ellie
Frazetta refered to them when I bought them from her. I also believe this is how the L. Ron Hubbard people
refered to them when they were sold in editions limited to 500. Frank was commisioned to do paintings, some
of which graced the covers of the L.Ron Hubbard book series “Writers of the Future”, “Dream Flight” was one.
A company affliated with L. Ron Hubbard, which I believe was called Author Services then sold lithographs of the paintings they commisioned Frank to do. Frank signed and numbered all 500 and “The Countess: did in fact
list with an original price of $5,000.00 as I believe several others did. Somewhere I have an original brochure showing these for sale.Do not confuse these lithographs with paper posters of his work. For one thing they are
much larger than the paper posters/prints. They are very thick and have a plastic feel to them with an almost
mettalic like finish and are of very high quality, as close to the original as you can get. They were not produced
or signed by Frank until he approved of them, then the run began. There were also Artist Proofs made and were
sold by Ellie Frazetta, most of these were numbered and signed by Frank in editions of 40, I own some of these.
I am glad that I have credit card receipts and letters from Ellie Frazetta discussing items I bought from her because there are lithographs out there on the internet that are simply not “the real McCoy”. I don’t know how much my Artist Proof lithographs are worth but I know there are Frazetta fans out there somewhere in the world
who would like to get their hands on one. In closing I would like to mention that the “Masters reproductions” were simply the posters sold at the museum in a fancy frame, I don’t know anything about the signatures on these but they were certainly not the $5,000.00 lithographs, I believe they sold for about $300 – $400.00

Yours Truly,

Rick Watson
Another Frank Frazetta Fan

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