With the possible exception of Milton Glaser’s I love New York, no single piece of typography has garnered more attention than Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE design. The artist originally created the image in 1964 to adorn a Christmas card being sold at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1970, a sculptural version made of corten steel was exhibited in New York. Since then, versions of the sculpture have been placed in public areas across the United States and in several countries. The piece has been translated into numerous languages, including Italian (amor), Hebrew (ahava) and Sanskrit (prem). This latter version has recently become the subject of an ugly legal battle between the 81 year old artist and his former business partner, John Gilbert.
Gilbert claims that Indiana signed a licensing agreement in 2007, affording him the right to create and sell tapestry and scultural versions of the PREM design. According to the New York Post, Gilbert initially paid Indiana $50,000 dollars for the rights. The artist later received an additional $50,000 in royalties. Nevertheless, Indiana had a change of heart, reneged on the deal, and is now claiming that Gilbert’s pieces are not authentic. Indiana’s caprice has led to the cancellation of scheduled auctions at Christies in Dubai and Sotheby’s in Milan. Gilbert is currently suing Indiana for breach of contract in a New York federal court. Indiana is counter-suing, demanding all profits from sales of PREM scultures and for damages for trademark violations and violations of the Visual Artists Rights Act.