ORLANDO, Fla. — The Associated Press has demanded that George Zimmerman halt the sale of one of his paintings because the news agency says it directly copies an AP photo.
Zimmerman’s painting depicts Jacksonville-based prosecutor Angela Corey holding her thumb and fingers together. An apparently made-up quote Zimmerman added to the piece reads, “I have this much respect for the American judicial system.” Corey’s office prosecuted Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder last summer.
Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., posted an image of the painting Wednesday on Twitter and tweeted a day later that they were in negotiations with possible buyers.
A letter with the AP’s demands said that Zimmerman’s painting was a direct copy of an AP photo taken at the April 2012 news conference where Corey announced Zimmerman would be charged with murder. It was taken for the AP by freelancer Rick Wilson. The news cooperative asked that any sale be blocked — and that, if there has been a sale, that the AP be paid damages.
The AP sent the letter to Jayne Weintraub, one of a handful of attorneys who has recently represented Zimmerman. Weintraub said she no longer represents Zimmerman but said she will forward the letter to him.
“George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in a written statement.
Zimmerman sold another painting on eBay last month, with a winning bid of $100,099.99.
George Zimmerman’s exact whereabouts are unknown, and an email address and phone number for him could not be found. His brother, who has frequently served as his spokesman, did not immediately respond to an email.
On Twitter, George Zimmerman wrote Friday evening: “No worries AP, I’ll just take whatever U sue me for off your tab when I’m done suing you Or… I could put out how much U offered me 2..”
Responding to Zimmerman’s tweet, Colford, the AP spokesman, said: “We don’t know what he’s talking about.”
Martin’s fatal shooting sparked a nationwide debate about race and self-defense. Zimmerman was accused of racially profiling Martin and said he shot the teen to protect himself.
Artist Shepard Fairey got in a legal dispute with the AP after he used an AP photo in his famous Barack Obama “HOPE” poster. Fairey sued the AP in an effort to get a court declaration that he did not violate AP’s copyrights when he made the Obama image. The AP countersued, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of its picture both violated copyright laws and was a threat to journalism.
Claims between the news agency and Fairey were settled in 2011, with Fairey agreeing to pay the AP $1.6 million.