March 7, 2019 / 6:21 PM / 5 months ago

Sculptor of Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' blocked from selling replicas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge in Manhattan has blocked the sculptor of the “Fearless Girl” statue that promoted gender diversity on Wall Street and in other companies from selling replicas, court papers released on Thursday show.

The 'Fearless Girl' statue is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) near Wall St. in New York City, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods issued a temporary restraining order against Kristen Visbal as part of a lawsuit filed against her last month by State Street Global Advisors, which commissioned the original bronze statue.

State Street said Visbal’s sale of unauthorized replicas undermined its message that female leaders help companies perform better. It said the replicas damaged its goodwill, and infringed its intellectual property rights.

The unit of Boston-based State Street Corp has about $2.5 trillion of assets under management.

According to court papers, Woods declined on Feb. 26 to issue a restraining order after Visbal’s lawyers told him she planned merely to discuss her creation of “Fearless Girl” at an unveiling in Melbourne, Australia.

The judge changed his mind after State Street said Visbal instead promoted two financial institutions and discussed gender diversity in that sector, violating her license agreement.

Woods' order bars Visbal from selling a "Fearless Girl" replica to a German buyer, or using online forms to sell replicas, including a smaller version for $6,650. (here)

“Plaintiff has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, and ... that it will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not entered,” Woods wrote.

Visbal’s lawyer Nancy Wolff called the order “unfortunate,” but said State Street’s agreement lets her client sell replicas, and discuss their shared gender diversity goals at unveilings.

“Kristen’s goal for ‘Fearless Girl’ is to create replicas for public placement around the world, where the public can stand with the iconic artwork and be inspired by its meaning,” Wolff said in a statement.

Lawyers for State Street did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Fearless Girl” was installed in March 2017 in Bowling Green in downtown Manhattan, facing the “Charging Bull” sculpture.

It was removed last November for eventual installation near the New York Stock Exchange.

The case is State Street Global Advisors Trust Co v Visbal, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-01719.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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