An interesting case of art ownership and moral rights is taking place in Costa Rica at the moment. The new 2,000 colones bill will enter into circulation soon. However, there has been a dispute because the author of the portrait of educator Mauro Fernández (pictured) has claimed that he was never asked for permission to use his painting in the bills.
The portrait was painted by artist Guillermo Cubero in an undisclosed date , but the work has been owned by the National Museum of Costa Rica for the last 25 years. The Central Bank of Costa Rica is the only financial institution with permission to issue currency, and they requested the use of the portrait to the current owners, but not to the author.
This is an interesting case, at least from my perspective, as I am not entirely sure about the copyright of a paining once it has been sold, so if anyone knows what happens I would be interested to hear their opinion. If I recall correctly, copyright is transferred with the painting without the need of a further contract or licence grant. However, moral rights in Costa Rica are inalienable, so the author would still remain the right to be identified as the author of the work.
Apparently, the issue is being solved amicably, the Central Bank will call a press conference and recognise the painter. It is possible that he was not interested in the monetary aspects, but wanted to make a moral argument.
Wouldn’t it be sort of deliciously ironic if all money was infringing copyright?