Contempt of court proceedings begin against parties involved in Kaws exhibition

The Kaws:Holiday Singapore showcase was slated to run from Nov 13 to 21. ST PHOTO: KEVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A non-profit arts organisation has started contempt of court proceedings against various parties involved in the Kaws:Holiday showcase, on the grounds that they breached an earlier court order to stop the exhibition and its related publicity events.

The application, filed in the High Court by The Ryan Foundation on Sunday (Nov 14) evening and seen by The Straits Times, is directed at Hong Kong-based organiser AllRightsReserved, its founder Lam Shu Kam, Portia So Wai Kwan, Division Communications and its co-founder Douglas Khee, and Prudence Security Specialist.

In a statement on Sunday, the foundation said it had served a court order to stop the exhibition on an AllRightsReserved representative at 4.20pm on Saturday (Nov 13), before a private preview for invited social media influencers from 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

But AllRightsReserved continued with the preview until 7.30pm, "with music being played at the event, and with security and public relations personnel hosting and ushering invited guests into the venue, entirely disregarding the order of court", the statement said.

ST has contacted AllRightsReserved for comment.

The week-long showcase of a 42m-long inflatable work by popular American artist Kaws, which the organisers say is "temporarily closed", has been embroiled in controversy.

Kaws:Holiday Singapore was slated to run from Nov 13 to 21.

But the foundation, founded by lawyer and art collector Ryan Su, sued AllRightsReserved for breach of intellectual property and breach of confidence. It obtained an order from the State Courts to stop the exhibition. The order was reportedly served on Saturday, a day before the showcase was to open to the public.

The interim court injunction also ordered AllRightsReserved to stop the sale and distribution of relevant merchandise relating to the exhibition, as well as all advertising and publicity.

ST understands that the foundation was in talks with AllRightsReserved in 2019 to make the event happen before negotiations fell apart.

Neither the Singapore Tourism Board, which supported the exhibition, nor Kaws, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, is party to the lawsuit.

The exhibition was meant to open to the public for free from Sunday (Nov 14). ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Mr Donnelly, 47, had on Saturday described the accusations as "baseless" and said he had no contractual agreement with the foundation.

AllRightsReserved, meanwhile, said the allegations were "groundless", adding that the company was "in the process of seeking urgent legal advice and will apply to court to challenge the prohibitory injunction order".

On Sunday, the foundation's director Adrian Chan said: "We are surprised and disappointed that they failed to comply with the interim injunction and have sought proper redress."

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