Did American Eagle Just Rip off Miami Street Artist?

AholSniffsGlue in front of one of his signature “eyeball” paintings, which he claims was used “without credit or compensation” in an American Eagle ad campaign. Photo by Daniel de las Casas for Tropicult

Some old Greek guy once said that the law is reason, free from passion. If that old chestnut held up under scrutiny there’d be a lot fewer pissed-off humans hand-pounding license plates in our sprawling prison-industrial complex. This contradiction inspired us to repurpose an old Noisey column, Ask a Lawyer, to give us the opportunity to hit up one of our lawyer buddies and get him to drop the gavel on the weirdest legal issues of our stupid time. He’d only agree to speak with us anonymously, because lawyers are pussies. Enjoy!

On the whole, so-called street artists are pretty low on the human tolerability index—a step above “rollerbladers” or “meth dealers,” perhaps—but this week, we were surprised to find ourselves siding with one of these scrappy little vandals. Yesterday, the Miami New Times reported that street artist AholSniffsGlue (real name: David Anasagasti) filed a lawsuit against American Eagle Outfitters for “blatant, unlawful, and pervasive infringement.”

Anasagasti claims that the Pittsburgh-based clothing and accessories company, which caters to middle-income WASPs who like their cargo shorts pre-frayed, ripped off his art without credit or compensation as part of a global ad campaign. He’s seeking infringement-related profits, an injunction barring further use of the infringed pieces, and actual damages. But does he have a case?

Let’s take a look at the parties concerned. The plaintiff, Anasagasti, is a successful graffiti artist who’s become something of a celebrity in the street art scene for painting funny little droopy eyeballs all over town. In fact, they’ve become his signature motif, and you can’t miss them when you’re driving down I-95 past the Margulies Collection. He’s been represented by Gregg Shienbaum, a successful art dealer and the owner of a handful of galleries around Miami, for more than two years, and is a featured artist in the Wynwood Art District. Anasagasti was also named Best Street Artist of 2014 by the Miami New Times.

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DID AMERICAN EAGLE JUST RIP OFF A MIAMI STREET ARTIST?

If you live outside of the 305 you might not be familiar with his work, but it looks like this:

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