Bukowski’s to Finally Open But Lawsuit Looms
LOS FELIZ—Bukowski’s, a new beer and wine bar honoring late author Charles Bukowski, has finally gotten all of its city permits approved and is set to open this summer at the corner of Kingswell and Vermont avenues.
But now the bar faces a different legal hurdle: a lawsuit filed in late April by artist Monte Thrasher—best known for his graphic design work for the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation—over a mural on the building housing the bar.
At issue is “Six Heads,” a mural Thrasher painted in 1992, which the lawsuit claims was illegally destroyed nearly three years ago, when it was painted over and replaced with a mural depicting author Bukowski, “ostensibly to promote [the] bar.” Thrasher is seeking $250,000 in damages.
Although it is not illegal for a building owner to paint over a mural, the Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA), a 1990 federal law, mandates the artist receive 90 days’ notice in order to document and preserve their work.
But the suit alleges bar owner Marci Siegel made no attempt to contact Thrasher before covering his mural.
“Perhaps most shocking is the fact that Thrasher’s email address appears on ‘Six Heads,’ and he could have been contacted,” read the suit.
Representing Thrasher is attorney Eric Bjorgum.
Bjorgum previously represented artist Kent Twitchell, who received a $1.1 million dollar settlement in 2006 when his downtown Los Angeles mural “Ed Ruscha Monument” was painted over in violation of VARA.
In an April 2016 interview, Bjorgum had said his ideal outcome would have been to take no legal action against the bar.
Instead, he said he would prefer, with Siegel’s blessing, to remove the new layers of paint and restore Thrasher’s mural, which he said could be done with relative ease.
Siegel said in a previous interview she “would not consider restoring the previous mural,” and she declined to comment on this story.