Barbie the famous painter? Frida Kahlo's family is not so sure

18 March 2018 - 00:00 By The Daily Telegraph and London

Relatives of the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo are threatening legal action to stop the sale of a Barbie doll in her image that they say does not resemble her and was produced without permission.
Mattel, a US toy company, announced the Frida doll this month as part of an "Inspiring Women" series that includes Amelia Earhart, the pilot, and Katherine Johnson, the Nasa mathematician.
Mara Romeo Pinedo, Kahlo's grand-niece, and Mara de Anda Romeo, her daughter, have threatened legal action. "They do not have authorisation to use her image," said De Anda Romeo.
De Anda Romeo said her objections stemmed from a "sense of responsibility" she felt about guarding the painter's legacy, more than 60 years after her death.
The doll, she said, neither reflected Kahlo's physical characteristics nor her Mexican nationality.
"You don't turn a doll into Frida Kahlo by putting flowers in its hair and giving it a colourful dress. It doesn't have a real Mexican costume. It doesn't have a unibrow."Pablo Sangri, a lawyer for the family, said his client did not seek money, but wanted Mattel to talk about redesigning.
"We will talk to them about regularising this situation, and by regularising I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history of the doll should have to match what the artist really was," Sangri told the Associated Press.
Mattel said the rights to produce the doll rested with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, which was founded in Panama in 2005.
"Mattel has a legally binding deal with the Frida Kahlo Corporation that owns the rights to the Frida Kahlo brand worldwide," said Michelle Chidoni, Mattel vice-president.
The corporation, which is separate from the family, said it received rights from Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, the painter's niece, who died in 2007.
Romeo Pinedo and De Anda Romeo said the family had been trying to dissolve the corporation for years through the courts but so far without success.
Beatriz Alvarado, a corporation spokesman, accused the family of "greed". "They don't want to respect a signed agreement for which they received money," she told the Mexican talk radio network Radio Fórmula. "They want to usurp the success of the Frida Kahlo Corporation."
Barbie has become popular across the world, but has often been criticised as promoting an unrealistic body image and a consumerist lifestyle.
Kahlo, renowned among other things for her distinctive eyebrows, was a lifelong communist who died in 1954. Barbie was born in 1959.

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