Culture / Arts

The Judd Foundation is Suing Kim Kardashian Over Knock-Off Tables

The Marfa, Texas Nonprofit, Which Represents Donald Judd's Legacy, Draws a Hard Line on Dupes

BY // 03.28.24

I shudder to think of the countless lawsuits, big and small, that must regularly fly the Kardashians’ way. But the family’s latest legal kerfuffle, involving Kim, some clean-line office furniture, and a nonprofit foundation based in Marfa, Texas, was one I couldn’t look away from. The action begins in 2022, when, in a YouTube video tour of the Skkn by Kim headquarters, the celebrity shows off a comically cavernous “open kitchen workspace” in several shades of muted beige. Other than a few scant pieces by artist Vanessa Beecroft, the main attraction is a set of “Donald Judd tables” that are “really amazing” and “totally blend in with the seats.” 

It’s hard to imagine Judd, a man seemingly allergic to excess, vibing with the Kardashians. 

And while the tables do mesh well with the kitchen’s austere chairs, they are not, in fact, the work of Donald Judd. At least according to the Donald Judd Foundation, the nonprofit that maintains the late artist’s legacy. In response, the Marfa-based group filed a suit against the celebrity this Wednesday, March 27, accusing her of making false claims. The now-two-year-old YouTube video, which had garnered more than 3.5 million views since its posting, has subsequently been removed. 

Kim Kardashian is bearing the brunt of the internet’s reaction, naturally, but we should really be looking at Clements Design, which was named as the table’s manufacturer in the lawsuit. According to The New York Times, the West Hollywood-based company has claimed that the wood type and proportions of their tables are different from the artist’s original work. The Judd Foundation, however, is pointing to an invoice from Clements Design that states its furniture is made “in the style of Donald Judd.” 

Clements Design certainly wouldn’t be the first company to sell dupes of famous fashion or furniture designs, a phenomenon that’s reached a fever pitch thanks to social media (although some great accounts, like Design Within Copy, are helping highlight the authentic origins of knock-offs). The ethics usually come down to who’s being “duped.” For example, knock-offs of pieces from expensive big box brands like RH are one thing (dupes of the its famous Cloud Couch are proudly touted online), but copying the work of an independent designer is another. 

Donald Judd’s work inside of the Chinati Foundation’s sheds.

In the case of Donald Judd, an artist often equated with the minimalism trend (though he eschewed that moniker in his lifetime), the overconsumption of dupes and fast furniture flies in the face of everything he stood for. The Times article also notes that the sale of Judd’s original designs are crucial for the foundation’s funding. (The real Donald Judd table, La Mansa Table 22, retails for $90,000. Only three authentic versions have been sold in the past 15 years.

For Kardashian’s part, Kim’s team reportedly reached out to the Judd Foundation back in 2022 and offered to update the video with a retraction. According to The New York Times, the Judd Foundation responded with a request that the furniture be destroyed and the video be deleted. Instead, Kardashian’s team offered to have Kim create a post in support of the foundation. After all, she states in the original YouTube video that she’s “really gotten into furniture lately.” Negotiations stalled after that.

As Megan Bannigan, a lawyer representing the foundation, told The Times, “We don’t want to be mixed up with Kim Kardashian. We respect what she does, but we don’t want to be involved with this.”

Oof.

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