Artist files lawsuit against Meow Wolf, claims copyright infringement

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico artist is suing Meow Wolf in Santa Fe for copyright infringement and breach of contract, claiming her work for the art collective was “exploited.”

In a 24-page lawsuit filed Monday, New Mexico artist Lauren Adele Oliver claims Meow Wolf and its former CEO and Cofounder Vince Kadlubek failed to follow-through on their original deal to collaborate.

Oliver says she created original sketches of Space Owl in 2006, what would later become a massive art installation inside Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return.

Oliver said she joined the art collective as one of Meow Wolf’s original artist members, with an understanding she’d receive ‘Artist Revenue Shares’ if the project was successful.

Years into Meow Wolf’s success, Oliver claims it became clear the terms of their agreement were changing. She said Meow Wolf was profiting from her art in gift shop merchandise, including a coloring book, all without her permission and without compensating her.

Oliver claims Meow Wolf gave her an ultimatum in 2019: to sell her Space Owl for a nominal sum or cut ties with the collective.

Her lawsuit does not say how much that nominal offer was, but her lawsuit claims Meow Wolf was receiving $158 million in venture capital. To date, Oliver claims she’s received $2,000 for her art installation.

“Because of Defendants’ misrepresentations and actions … her work has been exploited to enrich a handful of lucky new millionaires,” the lawsuit states.

Meow Wolf sent KRQE News 13 the following statement:

“We are aware of the claims made by Lauren Oliver and are disappointed by these baseless allegations. Meow Wolf is committed to supporting artists and providing fair treatment to every person we collaborate with. These claims run completely counter to our culture and we will vigorously defend against them through the legal process.”

Oliver claims Meow Wolf has threatened to remove her installation from its exhibit, but doing so, she says, would require Space Owl’s destruction.

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