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Arts & Entertainment News
Recent Newswire Stories from PRnetwire™ and eNewsChannels.com™

Edited by Christopher Simmons, senior news editor


CAUGHT IN THE ACT - ART HEIST BY THE FOURTH LARGEST NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM 'AN INSIDE JOB,' CLAIMS ARTIST PETER ANTON

GUILFORD, CT - (Send2Press Newswire) - Oct. 28, 2003 -- Everyone has had a great idea and had a boss or coworker steal it and get all the credit. Throughout history artists have been vulnerable to having their ideas and visions stolen by predators, too -- but the last thing an artist expects is that the predator would be a museum. Artist Peter Anton says he was "ripped off" by the fourth largest natural history museum in the world.

In June 2003, Peter Anton, well-known in the art world for his super-scale Chocolate Box sculptures, started receiving congratulatory phone calls from family members, friends and some of his collectors who had seen a photograph of what they thought was his Chocolate Box sculpture in The New York Times. When Anton saw the article, he was shocked to see a remarkable copy of his Chocolate Box sculpture. It was part of a story on the huge, popular and very profitable traveling show entitled "Chocolate" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which was organized by the Field Museum of Chicago.

Anton contacted a lawyer to inquire whether the museum had violated his copyright. His attorney wrote a letter to the Field Museum informing them that the artist's copyright had been violated, and outlined a number of steps that needed to be taken to rectify the situation.

"This is a very important issue. All artists, writers and musicians are vulnerable to being robbed of their ideas. All I wanted was an apology and credit that the Chocolate Box featured in the exhibition was inspired by me," said Anton. But, the museum and its attorney, Felisia Wesson, responded with a letter expressing less than an amicable spirit and an unwillingness to cooperate with the artist's request. Although Anton's attorney assured him that he had substantial grounds to sue the museum, he learned that the lengthy and complicated legal procedures could cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anton also contacted each member of the Field Museum's Board of Trustees-seventy very rich and powerful individuals who make up a who's who of corporate America. Not one single person responded.

The likelihood that the Field Museum's replica Chocolate Box was conceived and executed without familiarity of Anton's work is remote and can hardly be considered a coincidence. In 1996, Anton had sent photographs of his Chocolate Boxes to hundreds of museums and art galleries across the country. One of the recipients of these photographs was Sophia Siskel at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, who later became the Director of Exhibitions at the Field Museum.

Although the Field Museum's attorney attempted to discredit the artist by stating that "Mr. Anton's work has received a modicum of publicity," in fact, Anton's Chocolate Boxes have been widely featured in the press and broadcast media since the early 1990's, including People Magazine, Lufthansa Magazine, The Washington Post, Reuters, The New York Times, the New York Daily News, Food Arts, Restaurants USA, The Caroline Rhea Show, The Food Network, and CNN Headline News. In addition, full-page display ads featuring photographs of Mr. Anton's sculptures have been advertised for many years in ARTnews, Frieze Magazine, and Gallery Guide.

"It is so unfair that a museum, which is supposed to be in support of art, artists, and culture, would copy my sculptures...and then, with much arrogance, completely disregard me," said Anton. "Basically artists have no recourse for copyright infringement because the legal expenses are prohibitive, especially when you are up against a giant multimillion-dollar business like the Field Museum."

In 2003, the Field Museum's "Chocolate" exhibition was also shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. It opened October 11, 2003 at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and during the next three years it will be presented at museums in Houston, Philadelphia, Gainesville, FL, San Diego, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.


Organization Website: www.peteranton.com
Source of News: Peter Anton (Artist)

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