Perry Milou “In Discussions” with Getty Images Over $1 Million Pope Painting

The photo agency told Philadelphia magazine it was investigating Neil Stein's son due to similarities between his painting and a Getty photo.

Papal Plagiarism?:  Franco Origlia's photo of Pope Francis (left, via Getty Images); Perry Milou's $1 million painting (right, via Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations)

Papal Plagiarism?: Franco Origlia’s photo of Pope Francis (left, via Getty Images); Perry Milou’s $1 million painting (right, via Peter Breslow Consulting & Public Relations)

Last week, we told you that international photo agency Getty Images was investigating a Pope Francis painting by Philadelphia-area artist Perry Milou, because the painting is strikingly similar to a photograph in Getty’s vast collection. And now Milou’s attorney confirms that the artist is in talks with Getty to try to come to a resolution.

“Perry is in discussions right now with Getty to resolve the matter,” says Kirk Schroder, Milou’s Virginia-based counsel. “Given the timing of events and the publicity surrounding this matter, Perry felt it was best to address Getty’s concerns. I am optimistic that everything will be resolved but we will take it a step at a time.”

The Inquirer reported last week that Milou told them that he neither had nor required a license for the photo in question. But Philadelphia Archdiocese spokesperson Ken Gavin says that Milou “assured [the Archdiocese] at the time of the contract that he had the right to contract for the licensed art.” Milou’s painting has been deemed the “official” papal portrait of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia.

If the parties can’t come to an agreement soon, the dispute could go in front of a judge, with Milou likely arguing that his painting didn’t violate any copyrights on the Getty image, essentially because the painting is different enough. A similar case involved the Associated Press and artist Shepard Fairey and eventually settled, with Fairey giving up a portion of his proceeds to the AP.

In an informal and thoroughly unscientific poll, 82 percent of Philly Mag readers sided with Getty Images, with one commenter calling Milou’s painting “a paint-by-numbers copy” of the photo and another saying, “Looks like he probably traced it.”

Milou’s asking price for the painting in question is $1 million. He originally said that he’d donate $250,000 of the sale to the Mural Arts Project and another $500,000 to the charity of the buyer’s choice, pocketing $250,000 for the painting, which he says took him eight hours to complete. But he’s since backtracked on those financial terms, according to the Inquirer article.

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