A judge banned the sale in Mexico of a Barbie doll inspired on painter Frida Kahlo manufactured by American toy company Mattel, recognizing Kahlo’s family as sole owners of the famous artist’s image.
The ruling has immediate effect in Mexico, even though Mattel could appeal the judge’s decision. The Kahlo family says they will wait until the end of the legal process to file a similar lawsuit in the United States, the firm’s main location.
“This litigation is in its first stage, we approached the judge and asked for certain precautionary measures that would allow us to protect our rights over the intellectual property of Frida Kahlo,” Pablo Sangri, lawyer of the descendants of the artist, told AFP.
The AFP has tried unsuccessfully to contact Mattel’s office in Mexico to get a statement.
Last month, Mattel presented on the eve of International Women’s Day a collection of Barbie dolls called “Women who inspire”, which includes Frida Kahlo.
The firm made the agreement for the production of that Barbie with Frida Kahlo Corporation, founded by the family in partnership with the firm Casablanca Distributors, with which it broke relationships for allegedly breaching its duty to inform the family of the creator.
The judge orders Mattel and distributors “to refrain from any act tending to use the brand, image and/or work of Frida Kahlo”.
“I am delighted because I believe that justice is being carried out (…), the only people who have the rights for Frida’s image is the Kahlo family,” says Mara Romeo Pinedo, Frida Kahlo’s niece, who received the AFP reporters in a room of her house full of letters and photographs of the artist.
David Peña, of the Democratic Lawyers organization, told AFP that Kahlo’s family can use the ruling of the Mexican judge as a precedent that would make it easier to reach a US court.
The controversial dolls came to at least one Mexican chain of luxury stores last week and sold out in two days, one of the vendors told AFP.
The image of Frida Kahlo, as well as the pictorial universe she created, have been marketed in an infinity of objects, many controlled by the family.
“The only thing that the family is asking for is congruence. That if some kind of product is made, it has to be consistent with Frida’s image, with her way of being “, added Mara de Anda Romeo, great-granddaughter niece of Frida Khalo, during the interview .
In her opinion, that “Barbie” at least should have been more realistic.
“It would have to be more “Mexican” in many ways, a little darker, with a larger eyebrow, not so thin because Frida was not that thin, maybe with one leg shorter than the other, and dressed with Mexican jewelry”, added Frida’s niece.
Mara de Anda Romeo showed the AFP a large collection of products marketed with the image of the painter, who lived most of her life with plaster corsets and prosthetics.
A brewing company was authorized to print the face of Frida’s hard features on a commemorative edition bottle because a photograph was taken in the legendary Casa Azul in Coyoacán, where she lived with her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera, in which Frida appears holding a beer bottle of the same brand.
The sports apparel firm Converse was able to obtain the endorsement of the Kahlo family because at some point in time, the artist herself painted and decorated her own tennis shoes, which in fact looked a lot like the legendary Converse All-Star.
Kahlo (1907-1954) is considered one of the greatest painters of the 20th century for her moving and intimate self-portraits, where she often reflected her own pain and isolation.