Dutch inflatable duck artist protests at Taiwan 'copycat'

The Dutch artist whose giant inflatable duck is on display in Taiwan is threatening to close the exhibition early in protest at an apparent copycat attempt, officials said on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
The Dutch artist whose giant inflatable duck is on display in Taiwan is threatening to close the exhibition early in protest at an apparent copycat attempt, officials said on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - The Dutch artist whose giant inflatable duck is on display in Taiwan is threatening to close the exhibition early in protest at an apparent copycat attempt, officials said on Monday.

Mr Florentijn Hofman is reportedly upset with a souvenir stallholder in the northern port city of Keelung.

The stallholder, disappointed at lower than expected visitor numbers to Mr Hofman's exhibition, displayed his own version of the replica yellow bath toy in a bid to attract more trade.

The trader built his own six-foot-tall inflatable duck - apparently seen by Mr Hofman as a copycat creation - and is reportedly planning another three times the size, after stallholders who rented booths at the exhibition complained business was poor.

"Mr Hofman has said that if that cannot be stopped, he may suspend the show earlier" than the one-month contract, exhibition organiser and Keelung city council Speaker Huang Jing-tai told reporters.

"As the organisers, we respect Mr Hofman's ideas and respect his copyright.

Our lawyer has sent a letter to the trader and the port authorities," he said.

The copycat row is the latest mishap for the genuine 18-metre-tall inflatable duck.

It exploded and deflated into a floating yellow disc on Tuesday last week, 11 days after going on display in Keelung and hours before crowds gathered to count down the new year.

The duck was repaired and put back on show on Friday, but the response was lukewarm. Persistent rain and low temperatures have also kept fans away and drawn fewer visitors than expected.

Since 2007 the original duck designed by Mr Hofman has travelled to 13 cities in nine countries, including Brazil, Australia and Hong Kong, on its journey around the world.

Three Taiwanese cities exhibited their versions of it last year, but all were forced temporarily to suspend the exhibit due to bad weather or damage.

In November a Hofman-designed duck in the northern county of Taoyuan deflated during an earthquake when an air pump stopped working. Powerful winds caused the duck's rear end to burst while it was being reinflated.

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