Singapore court orders Kaws exhibition to be halted; organisers, STB respond

·Senior News & Video Producer
·3 min read
The 42m-long KAWS artwork, of the artist's Companion character, seen at The Float @ Marina Bay on Friday (12 November). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The 42m-long Kaws artwork, of the artist's Companion character, seen at The Float @ Marina Bay on Friday (12 November). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

*This story was updated at 12.30am on 14 November to reflect responses to media queries from the event organisers AllRightsReserved, the artist Kaws and the Singapore Tourism Board.

SINGAPORE — The organisers of the Kaws: Holiday Singapore exhibition at The Float @ Marina Bay were on Saturday (13 November) served with a court order to halt the event.

The injunction was obtained by local non-profit outfit The Ryan Foundation (TRF), which is suing the Hong Kong-based organisers AllRightsReserved (ARR).

According to a statement from TRF, the Singapore court issued the order “that the exhibition be stopped from taking place and the sale and distribution of relevant merchandise relating to the exhibition halted, as these were in breach of TRF’s intellectual property rights and misuse of confidential information”.

“In addition, all advertising and/or publicity for the exhibition has been ordered to stop,” said TRF.

The exhibition venue – The Float @ Marina Bay – has since been temporarily closed.

Responding to media queries, ARR said the allegations made against them were "groundless" and that the company is seeking "urgent legal advice and will apply to court to challenge the prohibitory injunction order".

"Our company takes this incident very seriously and will take all possible steps to ensure that this exhibition can progress in accordance with the laws of Singapore," said ARR in a statement.

Brian Donnelly, the American artist known as Kaws, said in a separate statement that he had "no contractual agreement" with TRF and that their "accusation is baseless". He also expressed his gratitude for the "overwhelmingly positive" reception he has received in Singapore so far.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the court order was served on Saturday afternoon to a representative of ARR. Mobile phone footage taken after the order was served showed crowds gathered at the event site.

The Kaws: Holiday Singapore exhibition, which is supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), is set to open to the public on Sunday and last till 21 November.

Part of the event's highlights include a 42m-long inflatable artwork of Kaws' signature Companion character set up at The Float @ Marina Bay, as well as the sale of merchandise relating to the Singapore show, such as vinyl figures, fans and apparel.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that TRF had previously worked with ARR to try and bring the Kaws: Holiday exhibition to Singapore in 2019, but negotiations for that event eventually fell apart.

TRF’s suit relates to information that was allegedly shared between the parties during the discussions – which included a site visit – for the 2019 show.

Adrian Chan, TRF's director, described the court’s granting of the injunction as a “victory” for all the people who had “worked tirelessly on the exhibition since 2019”. He added, “The injunction could have been averted if questions were raised and stakeholders consulted.”

In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, STB said it is "aware of the court injunction" against ARR and understands that the organisers are "pursuing all options".

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