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Ravensburger ordered to pay image rights for its Vitruvian Man puzzle


Seized by the Galleria dell'Accademia, where Leonardo da Vinci's drawing is kept, justice recalled that the image of a work held by an institution cannot be used without consideration.


Vitruvian Man

requires financial compensation has ruled the Venice court in an order issued in the legal battle between the Galleria dell'Accademia (where the masterpiece is kept) and the Ravensburger company,

At stake, a 1000-piece puzzle sold for up to 20 euros, reproducing one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous drawings.

Since 2009 it has been marketed in Italy, abroad and online, without any reproduction rights having been paid by the Italian subsidiary Ravensburger SRL or the German Ravensburger AG and Ravensburger Verlag GmbH.

The Galleria dell'Accademia therefore asked the companies concerned to pay reproduction rights up to 10%.

Before suffering an end of inadmissibility, explains

La Repubblica

in an article of February 23.

"Since 2019, as soon as I was appointed, I launched a project aimed at recovering the illicit commercial use of products derived from the image of Leonardo's masterpiece", explained

then Giulio Manieri Elia, director of the Galeries de l'Art. Venetian Academy, daily.

This 1000-piece puzzle is sold for up to 20 euros in stores and online.


The court of Venice relied on the Italian code of cultural property, stipulating that the image of a work kept by an institution cannot be used without the payment of royalties, to win the case for the cultural institution.

Concretely, it establishes that the public body is entitled to a royalty as if it were the author of the work.

A not insignificant godsend, royalties on works represent a substantial part of museum income.

Read alsoThe problematic journey of The Vitruvian Man

In its defense, the Ravensburger Group argued that the work fell into the public domain and that royalties should be paid for products only sold in Italy.

According to the company, websites and foreign subsidiaries are not affected, since their headquarters are located outside Italian territory.

Arguments refuted by Italian justice.

“This is a very important decision,

welcomed Judge Giacomo Galli, still with our colleagues from

La Repubblica.

Other Italian museums could make use of this ordinance, especially since some, notably those in Florence, have long since launched initiatives to fight against the illicit reproduction of the works they keep”.

Last October, the Florence Uffizi notably prosecuted Jean-Paul Gaultier for having copied Botticelli's Venus, 

"without asking permission (...) and paying the related rights, as expressly provided for by law"

, then denounced the institution which called on the fashion house to withdraw the clothes in question from the market or to contact the museum to reach a commercial agreement.

Rarely exhibited to the public

Regarding the dispute around Leonardo da Vinci's drawing, it could have been concluded differently if Ravensburger had agreed to pay 10% royalties, as requested in 2019 by the Venetian museum, and to transmit its sales figures to agree on the sum to settle, recalls the Italian daily.

To date, more than 320,000 euros have nevertheless been recovered.

In general, the Venetian museum has collected more than 460,000 euros on all the works exhibited since 2019, to the great satisfaction of its director.

Created around 1490 in pen, ink and wash,

The Vitruvian Man

is a fragile work kept in the drawing room of the Galleria dell'Accademia.

It is rarely displayed to the public.

This symbol of humanism, which represents the ideal proportions of the human body perfectly inscribed in a circle and a square, had been at the heart of tensions between Italy and France, during the major retrospective that the Louvre dedicated to the painter of the Renaissance in 2019, to celebrate the fifth centenary of his death.

Read alsoLeonardo da Vinci at the Louvre: Italian justice suspends the loan of The Vitruvian Man

The Galleria dell'Accademia not being in favor of moving the masterpiece, its loan to the Parisian museum was seriously compromised.

A dispute that required diplomatic work on several levels.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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