Sin City and its surrounding spaces are notoriously tolerant of “alternative” businesses—ones that communities in the rest of the U.S. would force out or have outlawed. But one artist/filmmaker/thrift store owner might be going one step too far, a business startup attorney in Las Vegas, NV might say about the way Mr. Brainwash seems to be structuring his market strategy, as essentially an art-world based intellectual property troll, as Las Vegas Weekly elaborates.
It began as a prank by a street artist who made a film that was more or less unwatched and far from critical acclaim. Following the protagonist’s half-baked attempts to “level the grand theory he’s been working toward,” the film sort of creates this filmmaker/artist/thrift store owner’s persona by showcasing his moment of inspiration on screen. Thierry Guetta, the French citizen behind the persona, tries out his new “grand theory” that “the whole movement of art was about brainwashing,” and dubs himself “Mr. Brainwash.” The film continues on, showing “Mr. Brainwash using the lessons absorbed from guerilla artists” to launch his own career, where he “rips off famous works of art,” changes them up a little bit, and sells them to collectors for “absurdly big bucks.” It’s an amusing story, when encapsulated into a film, but in real life? Most every business startup attorney in Las Vegas, NV would say it’s hard to actually make a buck this way.
Not least because of the lawsuits. Nevada intellectual property lawyer Cam Tu Dang probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Guetta/”Mr. Brainwash” has been the target of several trademark infringement suits from artists whose work he’s ripped off, apparently using the idea from the film to start his own portfolio in real life. Guetta and his own business startup attorney in Las Vegas, NV have reached settlements with the plaintiffs in the suits pretty quickly, but Mr. Brainwash might have gotten some more good ideas from them.
Now, it seems that he’s taking the lessons he learned in the art world about ripping off the masters and applying them to the legal world, hoping to make a buck. Las Vegas business lawyer Ian McMenemey would probably see this business model as despicable as artists and photographers see Mr. Brainwash’s attempts to profit off their artistic productions, “which more or less branded him as an unoriginal fraud.”
But whatever business startup attorney in Las Vegas, NV he’s chosen to work with has embraced Mr. Brainwash’s unconventional business model. Apparently owning the thrift store and trying to pass off great works of art as his own weren’t enough for Thierry Guetta: he’s descending into the less-than-savory legal realm to chase his dollars, too. The latest is his filing a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Life is Beautiful Festival for using the phrase “Life is Beautiful,” something Guetta is claiming he’s “been working into his art for many years and may have trademarked.” His methods may be underhanded, but so far, there’s nothing illegal about them, whatever ire he’s set to raise in the legal world that mirrors that of the art world that he has already aroused.