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My name is Valentin Ruhry, I´m an austrian artist living in Vienna. One of my ideas was stolen by creative consultants and sold to a big company. That sucks.

In 2011, my work Untitled (Hello World.) went viral. It was posted on this, that and many hundreds other blogs.
To my surprise, just a few month later Absolut Vodka showed a very similar piece at the Madrid Fashion Week. I tried to take action against it and reached out for a lawyer. The result was just another bill for me to pay.

Untitled (Hello World.), May 2011, ACFNY - Valentin Ruhry
4329 Switches, Sept 2011, Madrid Fashion Week - Luisa Alvarez
Commissioned by Pelonio for Absolut Vodka
Untitled (Hello World.), May 2011, ACFNY - Valentin Ruhry
4329 Switches, Sept 2011, Madrid Fashion Week - Luisa Alvarez
Commissioned by Pelonio for Absolut Vodka

Absolut Vodka

I think nothing needs to be said about this company. Everybody must have gotten drunk on one of their vodkas at some point of his/her life. The company has been working together with artists for many years and I wonder why they put their good reputation at stake.
Still, I prefer Stolichnaya.

  • absolut.com
  • Pelonio

    On Pelonio´s website the company describes itself as "a Fully Integrated Creative Consultancy originally based in Madrid since 2004". In July 2011 Pelonio sent images of my work to Luisa Alvarez and commisioned her to build a similar display for Absolut Vodka´s Kissing Room (Update 2012-07-27: Images of the work have been removed from their website) at Cibeles Fashion Week Madrid 2011

  • pelonio.com
  • Absolut Vodka - Kissing Room (Update 2012-07-27: Images of the work have been removed from their website)
  • Pelonio on Facebook
  • Luisa Alvarez

    Luisa Alvarez is a Spanish lighting designer. She does everything from interior light design to guerrilla lighting and is also a member of the APDI. On her website she claims 4329 Switches as her original work without reference (not anymore - see update below). She also showcases the work in a little video on Vimeo.

  • Luisa Alvarez
  • 4329 Switches on Vimeo

  • Update 2012-07-27, 7:13 p.m. (GMT)

    Only two days after the creation of this website I've had nearly 6000 visitors. Many people have contacted me, giving advice or offering me their help. There have also been media requests, and ArtFagCity ("New York’s Best Art Blog” — The Village Voice & Times Online) has done a story about the case.
    Thanks to you all for your support.

    I have sent another email to Pelonio/Luisa Alvarez - they didn´t answer. I have also informed Augustin Robinne, the Marketing Manager at Absolut Vodka Spain, about this website and asked him for a statement. I would like to give him the chance to express the companys side of the story to all readers. He hasn't answered yet. Lastly, Pelonio have taken down documentation of their copy – from their Facebook profile and online portfolio. That still doesn't make it alright!

    Update 2012-07-27, 9:02 p.m. (GMT)

    Luisa Alvarez has been updating her website. She has change her assignment to "technical production" and promoted PELONIO from "Curators" (2011-10-09) to "curators and designers".

    Congratulations, you were promoted!

    Source: http://www.luisaalvarez.com/español/ef%C3%ADmero/4329-interruptores/

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    Share and make a statement

    Share if you care!

    As an artist I´m depending on my ideas and further more, I want to be able to control them. Never would I have agreed to use Untitled (Hello World.) as a wall decoration for a liqueur company´s fair booth.

    Make a statement and share this page! I have been trying to contact Pelonio, Luisa Alvarez and Absolut Vodka and they only ignored me!
    Let´s see if they still don´t respond as the likes, tweets and +1´s increase!

    What happened?

    In May 2011 my work Untitled (Hello World.) was exhibited at the ACFNY. It quickly went viral and got featured on several art & design blogs and social networks such as reddit, facebook or imagehost imgur.
    A few month later a bunch of spanish "creative consultants" had the exactly similar idea for one of their clients.

    Email from Manuel

    On October 5th a very cryptic email from Manuel, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, reached me.
    He wrote:

    they think they have been inspired by your work.
    I think they have copied.


    After a few emails back and forth I found out that Manuel was actually involved in the production process. He explained that Pelonio commissioned Luisa Alvarez to build a bottle-shaped display, using illuminated On/Off-Switches. He wrote that they took images of my work and sent them to a carpenter and an electrician to rebuild it.

    I have participated in the construction of the bottle.
    This is the website of the company that contracted Luisa Alvarez:

    Pelonio sent photos of your work to Luisa Alvarez in July.
    The bottle was built in the first week of September.

    What the Lawyer says

    A few weeks later I talked to a lawyer. He explained to me that the situation is very complex: it all happened in a different country with different laws and it was hard to make out who the responsible contact person would be. Obviously, Luisa Alvarez publicly claims it to be her idea while Pelonio was acting on behalf of their client Absolut Vodka when commissioning her. He advised me to be careful, because all his services naturally needed to be paid. So we agreed to send a letter and wait for their response.

    Calling them

    I tried to get in contact with somebody at Absolut Vodka in Spain because I was really curious to find out if they actually knew, that Pelonio sold them a second-hand idea.

    I found this address on pernod-ricard.com

    Pernod Ricard Iberia / Pernod Ricard España
    C/ Manuel Maraňón, 8
    28043 MADRID

    Tel : + 34 91 368 3067
    Fax : + 34 91 377 44 19

    and called.

    I spoke to a Augustin Robinne, the marketing director, a very slick but nice guy, who claimed that he had never heard about me or my work before. When I asked him to simple google my name and "hello world" he refused. Augustin gave me a number at Pelonio´s and whenever I call, the guy in charge (I think his name is spelled "Sávio") was busy.

    Pelonio Madrid
    Lope de Vega, 47, Bajo D
    28014 Madrid

    Tel: +34 91 391 36 16

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    4329 Switches, Luisa Alvarez for Absolut Vodka, Sept 2011

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