Film Producer Sues Warhol Icon’s Widower Over Image Copyright

Film producer David Weisman and the widower of Edie Sedgwick; Michael Post are fighting a bitter legal battle over the image rights of the late Warhol superstar, Courthouse News reports. The producer included Sedgwick in his first film, Ciao! Manhattan (1972), the film was a fictionalised account of the heiress-cum-Warhol-Factory-icon’s life. Weisman went on to claim that the actress gave him the rights “to the use of her name, likeness, image, and identity for commercial purposes” when the actress signed her contract in 1970.

The agreement gained a new weight after the release of the film ‘Factory Girl’ (2006), the film was based on the rise and fall of socialite Sedgwick, concentrating on her relationships with Andy Warhol and a folk singer; and starred Sienna Miller as Sedgwick; putting the actress back on centre stage.

Post ‘Factory Girl’ the producer attempted to capitalise on the late actress’s newfound mainstream appeal, by licensing images of Sedgwick to the American clothing giant Urban Outfitters. But simultaneously Post claimed to be Sedgwick’s “successor-in-interest,”and also sold pictures of his late wife. Post’s images were sold to a Japanese design company planning to use photos of the star on their fashion line; and Weisman vehemently contested Post’s right to do so – as the act might invalidate his own claim to the image rights of the Warhol star.

In the case last September, the judge ruled that Weisman did own the rights to Sedgwick’s image associated with Ciao! Manhattan, but would not make a decision regarding the producers extended rights – leaving the decision whether or not Weisman had rights over all of Sedgwick’s images to the state court.

According to Courthouse News, this decision resulted in a lawsuit filed by Weisman’s attorney James Ballentine; which occurred in a Santa Barbara County Court on October 24. The lawsuit contends that “Post has no rights in the name, likeness, image, or identity of Sedgwick, as successor-in-interest to Edith Sedgwick.”

Weisman is also seeking damages and injunctive relief, arguing that he has “continued to be the sole proprietor of all right, title, and interest in the Publicity Rights of Edith Sedgwick.”

Edith Minturn “Edie” Sedgwick was born April 20, 1943 and passed away on November 16, 1971 from an overdose, she was an American heiress, socialite, actress, and fashion model. Sedgwick is best known for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, and became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films in the 60s. She was dubbed an “It Girl” of the period.

But the relationship with Warhol soon faltered. After leaving the Factory, following her estrangement from Warhol’s inner circle, Sedgwick moved into the Chelsea Hotel, where she became ‘close’ to Bob Dylan.

Sedgwick married Michael Post in 1971, he was a fellow patient that she met while committed to the Cottage Hospital in the summer of 1970. The actress reportedly stopped abusing alcohol and other drugs for a short time under Post’s influence. But after being prescribed pain medication to treat a physical illness; Sedgwick soon returned to abusing barbiturates and alcohol. As her mental health continued to deteriorate. Sedgwick died of drug and alcohol overdose a few months later.


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