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27 Hastings L.J. 1023 (1975-1976)
The Refrigerator of Bernard Buffet

handle is hein.journals/hastlj27 and id is 1043 raw text is: The Refrigerator of Bernard Buffet

TIE French artist Bernard Buffet was invited to decorate a refrigera-
ator to be auctioned in Paris for the benefit of charity. He did so by
painting a composition consisting of six panels: three on the front, one
on the top, and one on each side of the refrigerator. He considered the
six panels parts of one painting and signed only one of them. The
refrigerator was duly auctioned along with nine others, decorated by
nine other artists, at the Galerie Charpentier.       Six months later the
catalog for another auction included a Still Life With Fruits by
Bernard Buffet, illustrated and described as a painting on metal.          In-
spection showed that the painting was one of the panels decorating the
front of the refrigerator.     The artist brought an action against the
owner-consignor to prevent the separate sale of the panel, and the court
so ordered.'
* B.S., 1943, University of Portland; M.S., 1944, J.D., 1947, University of Notre
Dame; LL.M., 1951, J.S.D., 1955, New York University. Sweitzer Professor of Law,
Stanford University.
Gilbert S. Edelson, Albert E. Elsen, Paul Goldstein, Melville B. Nimmer, and
Stephen E. Well thoughtfully criticized an earlier draft of this article, and Stefano
Rodota, Sabino Cassese, and Jean-Louis Goutal gave expert advice on European law. The
author is grateful for their generous assistance.
@ 1976, John Henry Merryman.
1. The judgment of the Tribunal de la grande instance de la Seine of June 7, 1960
is contained in the report of the appellate court decision. Buffet v. Fersing, [1962]
Recueil Dalloz ID. Jur.] 570, 571 (Cour d'appel, Paris). The tribunal also awarded Mr.
Buffet symbolic damages of one new franc, the right to publish its decision in three art
periodicals of his choice at the defendant's expense, and costs. It refused the artist's
request that the six panels be awarded to him as damages. Mr. Buffet appealed on two
principal grounds. First, he contended that the tribunal had erred in limiting the order
to the defendant to public disposition of the work on a piecemeal basis, holding that only
such a public dismemberment of the work was a sufficiently grave impairment of the
artist's moral right to warrant the limitation of defendant's right of property that the
relief requested necessarily entailed. The court of appeal agreed with the artist on this
point and revised the judgment to prohibit even private piece-by-piece disposition.
Second, he contended that the tribunal should have awarded the six panels to him. On
this point the court of appeal agreed with the tribunal that such relief was unwarranted.
There is a thoughtful note on the case by Professor Henri Desbois. See id. at 572.


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