What was supposed to be a historical NFT collection, August Sander’s NFT collection has now been called a bad move and is now going to court amid a copyright lawsuit by SK Stiftung Kultur. It was originally created by the photographer’s great-grandson, Julian Sander, to hold the photos as NFTs on the blockchain.
About the collection and copyright claim
Julian, August Sander’s great-grandson, recently wanted to bring his great-grandfather’s iconic photos to the blockchain via OpenSea. The collection would form the legendary photographer’s overall archive, comprising 10,700 photographs. These NFTs would be given away for free, with users only having to pay gas fees. Julian’s goal was to “secure August Sander’s legacy on the blockchain.”
The starting signal for the project, which is managed by the August Sander family estate under the direction of Julian, was given on February 10th. Julian Sander is an art dealer and gallery owner, also based in Cologne. Hauser & Wirth and Fellowship Trust also helped with the collection. In just a few weeks, over 400 ETH were traded in secondary sales on OpenSea.
After receiving a lot of love on social media, including some from respected photographers, the collection quickly disappeared. This was because Julian does not own the copyright to August Sander’s work, but the SK Stiftung Kultur maintains these rights until 2034.
In 1992, Julian’s father, August’s grandson, Gerd, sold the collection to the SK Stiftung Kultur. Gerd worked closely with them throughout his artistic career. Immediately after the collection was on OpenSea, the SK Stiftung Kultur came to the marketplace with a takedown message. They followed suit by suspending sales on March 7th.
Julian Sander says the claim isn’t valid, but it’s safe to go to court to find out who is the true copyright owner of these NFTs.
Who was August Sander?
August Sander was a German portrait photographer. He has previously been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early 20th century”. His career began in 1901 when he worked in a photo studio in Linz, before becoming a partner in 1902 and sole proprietor in 1904.
It was not until 1909 that he left the company and founded a new studio in Cologne. His first book, Face of Our Time, was published in 1929. Over the course of his career, he created many iconic photos before he died in 1964 at the age of 87.