Lawsuit claims Val Kilmer ripped off artwork sold in Santa Fe

New Mexico

A man claims that movie star Val Kilmer has ripped off his artwork, which is sold in Santa Fe. The allegations have now turned into a federal lawsuit.

Tucked within Santa Fe is the work of Austin, Texas-based artist Bale Creek Allen, including what’s said to be one of his signatures pieces: the gold laden tumbleweed.

It’s a piece that caught the eye of the actor known to many as Ice Man, Doc Holliday and Batman.

“Several years ago, he was approached by Mr. Kilmer to purchase one of these golden tumbleweeds,” North Texas-based attorney Chris Gilbert said. “How he came up with the idea, how he took something he found in nature and turned it into a work of art.”

Gilbert says Kilmer declined to purchase the expensive piece despite his interest. Then, he did something allegedly illegal.

As seen on Kilmer’s verified Facebook page, in 2016 Kilmer posted a picture with his own 22 karat gold-covered tumbleweed saying he’s “embarrassed” to reveal the price. It was being sold at an L.A. boutique.

Gilbert says that price tag was $150,000. He did not have the price tag of his client, Bale Creek Allen’s, sculptures on hand.

“Even his backstory regarding his inspiration mirrored our client’s,” Gilbert says.

Now, a lawsuit has been filed in federal court over copyright infringement. The suit seeks unspecified damages. Gilbert says that amount will depend on how many tumbleweeds Kilmer sold, but clarified that this is really about a stolen idea.

“Money is the least of his concerns. He’s known for these sculptures in the art world. They’re his signature pieces, and so ultimately he took his time thinking it through, but felt like he simply had to do this,” Gilbert said of Allen.

Gilbert said at this point, he has not heard from Kilmer.

KRQE News 13 reached out to Kilmer through his art website, but have yet to hear back.

According to the lawsuit, Kilmer still has a home in Rowe, east of Santa Fe along the Pecos River. He sold most of his property there back in 2011 for almost $20 million.

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