What happened to the KAWS:HOLIDAY SINGAPORE exhibition

The company that brought the exhibition to Singapore, AllRightsReserved, has been sued for breach of intellectual property and breach of confidence.

Naren Sankar

Nostalgic man, never giving up. Loves cartoons.

Published: 15 November 2021, 3:43 PM

KAWS:HOLIDAY SINGAPORE, a 42m-long artwork featuring KAWS’s signature character, Companion, has been the focal point of an alleged intellectual property breach in recent days.

Since 2018, KAWS:HOLIDAY has travelled to Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, the United Kingdom among others. Singapore was meant to be the seventh stop in its world tour, as part of its long-time collaboration with AllRightsReserved.

It was announced on Oct 27 that the artwork will be in Singapore from Nov 13 to Nov 21, at the Float@Marina Bay.

But on Nov 13, a day before the exhibition was due to open to the public, AllRightsReserved was served a court order to stop the exhibition and any sale or distribution of merchandise related to it. The order was also served before a private preview for invited social media influencers and media outlets, which ran from 4.30pm to 7.30pm.

The interim court injunction was issued as the Ryan Foundation had sued AllRightsReserved for breach of intellectual property and breach of confidence. According to reports, the foundation had been in talks with AllRightsReserved in 2019 to make the event happen before negotiations fell apart.

The Ryan Foundation, a non-profit organisation promoting arts awareness and developing art projects to build communities in Singapore, also claimed to have introduced AllRightsReserved to Singapore Government contacts and that it came up with design ideas for the merchandise, before the project was aborted.

AllRightsReserved, however, continued with the preview until 7.30pm, “with music being played at the event, and with security and public relations personnel hosting and ushering invited guests into the venue, entirely disregarding the order of court”, a statement from The Ryan Foundation said.

AllRightsReserved have called the accusations baseless and that they would apply to court to challenge the prohibitory injunction order, according to a statement issued on Nov 13. The Ryan Foundation then started contempt of court proceedings against AllRightsReserved on Nov 14.

Brian Donnelly, the creator of KAWS, is not a part of the suit. Singapore Tourism Board, which is supporting the event, said it is aware of the legal proceedings and added they “understand the organisers are exploring all options,”.

Subsequently on Nov 15, AllRightsReserved announced that following a court hearing, the injunction was discharged and that KAWS:HOLIDAY will reopen on Nov 16.

AllRightsReserved said in its statement: “Having toured in various countries, KAWS:HOLIDAY is like a door to inclusiveness – it lets people from different backgrounds see his (Brian Donnelly’s) artworks. When our exhibition at The Float @ Marina Bay was forced to shut its doors, we felt wronged and frustrated, as the gate to these valuable exchanges had been shut. This is not what our company, or the world, would like to see.

“Fortunately, the Court’s judgement allows the exhibition to be reopened tomorrow, so that “KAWS:HOLIDAY Singapore” can finally enter the hearts of Singaporean citizens. Our company hopes that people can relieve their burdens under the pandemic and relax on the shores of the beautiful Marina Bay.”

If you’re curious about what exactly KAWS:HOLIDAY is all about, check out our story here.

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