The Velvet Underground’s banana-rama with The Warhol Foundation
by: Abernathy Miller
September 11, 2012
Twenty five years after his death, Andy Warhol is still making headlines.
Last February, the New York Times reported Lou Reed and John Cale filed a suit against the Warhol Foundation for “illegally licensing the banana image from The Velvet Underground and Nico album, and putting it on iPad sleeves and other products.” Band members weren’t happy about this, saying that having this image on the products made it seem like an official endorsement from The Velvet Underground.
Since Warhol made the image explicitly for the Velvet Underground — it became their unofficial mascot — the copyright question of the case was total quagmire. The band argued the foundation couldn’t license the image, since a picture of a banana was “public domain.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Judge Alison Nathan threw out the copyright portion of the case last Friday. However, the band can still battle it out in court for trademark claim of the (now infamous) banana.
Not only is Andy a topic of chatter in the court system, but his name is popping up in other facets of society lately. Target recently released limited edition Warhol Campbell’s Soup cans, for the art-savvy consumer on a budget. The art world is also slated to recognize his contributions when The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists Fifty Years” opens on Sept. 18.
If Andy knew his 15-minutes of fame extended 25 years post-mortem, maybe he wouldn’t have thought dying was so “embarrassing.”