Jeff Koons sculpture pulled from Paris museum over plagiarism claims

Artist Jeff Koons and wife Justine Wheeler Koons at the 2014 Women's Leadership Award honouring Stella McCartney at Alice Tully Hall in New York on Nov 13, 2014. A sculpture by US pop artist Jeff Koons has been pulled from a retrospective of his work
Artist Jeff Koons and wife Justine Wheeler Koons at the 2014 Women's Leadership Award honouring Stella McCartney at Alice Tully Hall in New York on Nov 13, 2014. A sculpture by US pop artist Jeff Koons has been pulled from a retrospective of his work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris after he was accused of ripping off a French clothing advert, the museum said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - A sculpture by US pop artist Jeff Koons has been pulled from a retrospective of his work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris after he was accused of ripping off a French clothing advert, the museum said Tuesday.

The multi-million-euro artwork depicts a large pig and a tiny penguin with the bust of a woman lying on snow in a fishnet top revealing her breasts.

Entitled "Fait d'Hiver" - a play on the French term for a short news item "fait divers" - the sculpture resembles a 1985 advertising campaign of the same name for French clothing brand Naf-Naf.

The Naf-Naf campaign showed a young girl lying in snow, apparently the victim of an avalanche, being nosed by a pig with a barrel of rum under its neck in reference to the famous Saint Bernard rescue dogs.

Koons's porcelain artwork shows a similar looking woman being approached by a pig with a barrel under its neck.

Franck Davidovici, the creator of the campaign, accused Koons of stealing his idea.

The president of the Pompidou Centre, Alain Seban, defended the artist, however, noting that "similar questions" had already been raised in the United States about other works from Koons' Banality sculpture series, "the very principle of which is to draw on objects bought in shops or images seen in the press".

"It is essential that museums be able to continue to give an account of these artistic endeavours," he said in a statement, which emphasised that the contentious piece had been withdrawn "at the request of the lender".

A bailiff was called to the Pompidou Centre last month to photograph Koons' creation and compare it with the Naf-Naf ad.

The sculpture, which was sold at Christie's auction house in New York for about three million euros in 2007, is one of four copies of the artwork.