Detail from Warhol's famous banana cover image (1967)

Peel slowly and sue

Warhol 1, The Velvet Underground 0, in their on-going banana lawsuit


Earlier this week a federal judge in Manhattan dismissed claims brought by the Velvet Underground's co-founders, Lou Reed and John Cale, back in January against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the band alleged that the Warhol foundation had illegally licensed the banana image from the cover of their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Though Warhol had produced the image for the group, whom he also managed for a time and produced, Clifford James, lawyer for the Velvet Underground, says Warhol never copyrighted the image, and that the foundation's plans to license the cover image for iPad and iPhone cases and sleeves prompted the band's legal proceedings. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan rejected the copyright claim, yet the group hopes that their separate trademark case will prevail.

In perhaps not entirely unrelated news, the Velvet Underground are to release a limited-edition, six-CD box-set version of the debut album, to mark its 25th anniversary this October, with the banana featuring proudly within the packaging. For more, fully licenced Warhol ephemera, consider our Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné series, a multi-volume series on Warhol's complete artworks.