Artist Files Suit Over Destruction of Renowned Mural Alleging Violation of VARA

Author:Mr Sal Wakil and John Carson
Profession:Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP

A noted designer and illustrator who worked on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," has filed a lawsuit over the destruction of his Los Angeles "Six Heads" mural, alleging violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and the California Art Preservation Act. The case is Thrasher v. Siegel et al., case number 2:17-cv-03047, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Monte S. Thrasher began work on the "Six Heads" mural in 1992, as a homage to science fiction artwork and his neighborhood of Los Feliz, an area known for supporting the arts and artists.  The mural was often photographed, used as a backdrop for fashion shoots, and positively received by online reviewers.  Thrasher had painted the mural by hand with a brush, and would return periodically to touch up the mural.

In June 2014, the mural was painted over "in broad daylight" to make way for a planned new bar named Bukowski's, and to replace "Six Heads" with a mural of famed poet Charles Bukowski.  Thrasher's email address was visible on "Six Heads," but he was not contacted to move or document the mural before its destruction.

VARA protects an artist's moral right of attribution, which allows an artist to protect the identification of his name with his own work.  VARA also protects the moral right of integrity, which allows the artist to prevent his work from being displayed in an altered, distorted, or mutilated form.  Moral rights legislation recognizes that...

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