Empire State Building Supposedly Sues Photographer Over Photograph Of Topless Woman

from the based-on-what? dept

The story is almost too good to be true for the press. Apparently, the company that owns the famous Empire State Building in NY is suing photographer Allen Henson for $1.1 million because he took a photo of a model named Shelby Carter, posing topless up on one of the ESB's observation decks. I've read nearly a dozen articles about the lawsuit, and I've noticed one thing: every one of them contains one or more of the photos of Carter topless (some pixelate or otherwise cover her breasts, some do not), and every one of them includes direct and different quotes from Henson who seemed quite willing to talk to anyone and everyone about the story and who freely admitted that it was good publicity for his ongoing efforts to photograph topless women around NYC, after a police announcement last year that it's not illegal for women to be topless in NY. However, none of them seem to include the actual lawsuit. We won't post the photos here. You can see them at basically every other link in this post. The closest to having the actual lawsuit (and this surprises me) is the NY Daily News, which at least notes that the lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, and at least suggests the cause of action:
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, ESRT Empire State Building says photographer Allen Henson caused "damage to its business and reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction" by taking pictures of a woman without her shirt on there this past August 9.
I'd really like to see the actual lawsuit to see on what basis the company is making this claim. Yes, the Empire State Building is private property, so its owners can easily kick Henson off the property and even bar him from returning. But I can't see how they have any legal argument at all for demanding $1.1 million. From some of the other comments, there appears to be some allegations that the actions are "commercial" and that it cost the Empire State Building extra money to beef up security while decreasing the Empire State Building's "reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction." I'm still not clear how that amounts to something you can sue someone over, let alone for $1 million. But, until someone actually provides the lawsuit (and Henson himself seems to suggest he hasn't even seen it either), it's difficult to understand the details. I have some emails out, and hopefully someone in the press will stop focusing on getting up photos of this woman's breasts for long enough to see if they can get a copy of the actual lawsuit to post as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 2:20am

    If anything...

    It should boost the reputation of the Empire State Building.

    "Look at us, we're so safe and secure that you can go topless and aren't assaulted."

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 3:50am

    You can be totally safe and secure in the Empire State Building, as long as your not dark enough to get stopped and frisked on the way, hit by a taxi, or beaten to death for having a 32 oz soda in your possession.

    Imaginary dollars are pretty much the only thing keeping the legal profession going these days.
    The first thing we do is ....

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:02am

    He clearly does in fact have a case. I mean, why else keep it secret?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:07am

    "safe and secure"

    Pray tell, how in the world does a woman going topless make a place 'unsafe' or 'insecure'?

     

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  5.  
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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:36am

    Aren't women allowed to walk topless in NY in any location where men can walk topless? If so, let's go all to ESB and make a whole gallery of bare breasts! Both male and female and everything in-between!
    (Is someone prepared to pay for my ticket from Europe to NY, btw? :-) )

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:47am

    It is not even a very good photograph, and the pixelated versions are reminiscent of the meme "unnecessary censorship".

     

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  7.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:09am

    Difference?

    I have some emails out, and hopefully someone in the press will stop focusing on getting up photos of this woman's breasts for long enough to see if they can get a copy of the actual lawsuit to post as well.
    Breasts or lawyers, your's still talking about a bunch or tits surely?
    /possibly too english joke

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:12am

    Mike sez: "I've read nearly a dozen articles... [mmm...] breasts" --I just bet yoiu have.

    And it's the draw for your drooling ankle-biters. And that relatively large and intense effort for trivial anomaly and stated PR stunt all on "Supposedly", eh?

    Don't you have the LEAST self-awareness of how adults view you? You've supposedly -- no actual bio given here, though, so that IS supposedly -- an Ivy League education and you're not only tittering over breasts to titillate fanboys, but knowingly promoting a PR stunt.

    Mike claims to have a college degree in economics, can't ya tell?

    01:12:14[b-145-5]

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:17am

    if someone has a chance, dubious or not, of making some money, they will try! and let's face it, judges today are as ready to take publicity as anyone and are quite willing to rule in the exact opposite way to what they should. i think they do that intentionally so as to cost both sides as much money as possible!

     

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  10.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:41am

    Re: "safe and secure"

    you heartless AC!
    Won't someone think of the children!?

     

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  11.  
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    William Jackson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    I believe your are right about topless women in NYC

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    Well at least these women dont demand to be respected for walking around like idiots, unlike those russians who traumatize the churchgoers.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:56am

    "I have some emails out, and hopefully someone in the press will stop focusing on getting up photos of this woman's breasts for long enough to see if they can get a copy of the actual lawsuit to post as well."

    Silly Mike, breasts get page views, not boring legal filings! Don't you know everyone on the Internet acts like a horny teenage boy when it comes to what gets page views?!?

     

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  14.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:57am

    Re: "safe and secure"

    I don't think a topless woman makes a place unsafe or insecure any more than a shirtless muscle bound hunk holding either kittens or puppies. However I would prefer the latter and would cringe at the former.

    The point is that some of us don't want to see the topless woman any more than others want to see a hot dude. There are plenty of other venues where these things are welcome and appropriate.

    But again, I think the "safe and secure" argument is nonsense. The ESB people should just argue the real point about wanting people in public spaces of their building to be clothed.

     

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  15.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:01am

    Re: "safe and secure"

    If they let HER get away with it, then EVERYONE will want to do it! (Although at up to $40/ticket, it would be far cheaper to expose yourself on, say, the Staten Island Ferry or the subway.)

     

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  16.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    Correct, and likely the impetus for this photo series. The ESB is private property but I don't see them demanding a million dollars if a man takes his shirt off.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:44am

    I, for one, have no issues with women taking their tops off whenever, wherever they want!! ;-)

     

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  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:46am

    Slo nooz day?

    Hate to see TD get sucked into promoting what is at best silly news, at worst publicity stunting for one or both (alleged) parties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:07am

    Re: If anything...

    and aren't assaulted except by our staff.


    /fixed that for you. Lawyers count as staff in this case.

     

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  20.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:22am

    Re: Mike sez: "I've read nearly a dozen articles... [mmm...] breasts" --I just bet yoiu have.

    You are the main reason other blogs wont let you post without registering first... asshole.

     

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  21.  
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    KoD, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:37am

    This is some really shoddy reporting, Mike... A real journalist would have included the picture.

     

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  22.  
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    RayBeckerman (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:39am

    Copy of the actual summons and complaint

    Copies of the actual summons and complaint filed on January 10th are posted on my blog here

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    RayBeckerman (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Oops, wrong link

    This is the link to my blog post

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:43am

    America.......

    Guess nobody would have sued him if he shot the woman with a gun instead of a camera.

     

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  25.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Mike sez: "I've read nearly a dozen articles... [mmm...] breasts" --I just bet yoiu have.

    Lately I've been thinking of that Monkeyscript from a few years ago that would automatically hide darryl's comments and if it could be modified not only to hide Blue's comments, but also automatically click the report button if it's not checked.

    And before anyone jumps on my shit for wanting to suppress Blue's Free Speech rights - he would still have the right to his speech, but I also have the right to ignore his crazy rants if I choose to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    DOlz (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Here's the problem

    If you have pictures of women's breasts on the Empire State Building that is going to send confusing messages about the phallic nature of the building.

     

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  27.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:05am

    Re:

    I, for one, have no issues with women taking their tops off whenever, wherever they want!! ;-)

    I am exactly the opposite, but not for the reasons you might be thinking. I have no issue with anyone, male or female, taking off their tops at the pool, beach, gym, etc. At least at those places people tend to be washed and clean (or, in the case of the gym, everyone is stinky and dirty.) It is kinda expected to see naked bodies in those places, and I don't really care what gender they are. I'd even argue that walking/running on the street or site-seeing (such as at the ESB) would qualify as a shirtless activity, though I don't think I'd ever take my shirt off while running or site-seeing (eww).

    However, I prefer men and women to be professional at work (unless you work at a pool, beach or gym.) And hell no in places I am eating -- hands and faces are dirty enough -- I really don't want to deal with dirty chests (men or women) in those places too. Especially given that clothes are usually washed more often than bodies (and don't get me started about conferences -- I think people purposefully neglect cleanliness at those things.)

     

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  28.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:10am

    You have to realise that the Empire State building used to have the biggest dick.... ooops.. phallic symbol in town

    Nowadays it's just a place for Gorilla's, RomCom Movies and Boobs...

    Wouldn't you be a bit pissed? people are mistaking you for California

    ;)

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:21am

    This is a story that I definitely need to stay abreast of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:25am

    Re: "safe and secure"

    I'm willing to bet if you put such a view near a road you'll see a steep increase in car accidents involving males.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Mike sez: "I've read nearly a dozen articles... [mmm...] breasts" --I just bet yoiu have.

    Think of he/she/it as an...um...urm...pet...yeah a pet. One you don't like, and one that does not like you, but he/she/it hangs around because others feed he/she/it where you are.

    Best you can do is ignore he/she/it, and hope others will stop feeding he/she/it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: "safe and secure"

    What DannyB says. The photographer really should have asked first, though the security argument is specious at best.

    I'm not sure what law would apply here if it's legal to be topless in NY and they want to sue. If anything, revenues may shoot up as a result of the publicity. What then can they claim as damage?

     

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  33.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    Again with the sad but true comments!

    I'd love to see the filing myself. Can't wait till some kind person digs it up and posts it here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:21am

    Re: Slo nooz day?

    Mike's grouching about the press focus on BOOBIES!!111elventyone!111!!! and is hoping some kind soul will provide him with a link to, or the text of, the legal filing in this case as it is a freedom of expression issue. Can you help?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    Re: Oops, wrong link

    Thanks, RayBeckerman. Checked and working, though right-click copying seems to have been disabled.

    The takeaway is that they're focusing more on the APPROPRIATE for familes angle than security, the idea being that they don't want to see a decline in families and an increase in lowlifes looking for bare boobies, etc.

    They don't appear to have provided any proof of harm, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    MadAsASnake (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:00am

    Re: "safe and secure"

    Well, the people trying to ban it might feel insecure about their own personality...

     

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  37.  
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    MadAsASnake (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:04am

    So boobs are now a security threat? Are they going to scan people on entry that might be concealing boobs then?

     

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  38.  
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    MadAsASnake (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:13am

    Re: Oops, wrong link

    Ha Ha.

    Doesn't appear to have an argument except that they didn't like what they did.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re:

    Girls? EW

    I lied, tits or gtfo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: "safe and secure"

    They can "want" it till the cows come home, it doesn't mean they have the right to sue if they don't get it.

    I want people in my building to be topless.. can I sue them for having been clothed in my place?

    whether there is damage or not makes no difference if she isn't breaking any law.

     

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  41.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: "safe and secure"

    The sight of a topless woman makes you cringe? I find that very bizarre.

     

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  42.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Oops, wrong link

    Agreed. I read through the thing twice trying to figure out the basis of the lawsuit, and couldn't find anything close to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    Allen had originally posted an Instagram photo of the actual lawsuit, so he has definitely seen it. For some reason that particular Instagram has since been removed. I know Allen very well, and he is a dirty lying misogynist. I wouldn't believe one single word that comes out of his mouth.

     

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  44.  
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    Zonker, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    Are they really suggesting that this photo will cause the Empire State Building tourism business to go tits-up?

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:38pm

    Re:

    Why do you think they don't demand respect, simply because they are topless? And walking around topless makes one an idiot? - Wow.

    Oh and those poor church goers, I'm sure it was very traumatic for them, they are probably suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Better charge those Pussy Riot members with hooliganism and send them to Siberia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Re:

    In Florida maybe

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:49pm

    Re:

    That depends on the size. As you know, some women have special implants to make their boobs bigger. What if a suicide terrorist gives herself a couple of fake tits by using a dangerous explosive? Then all she has to do is to shake the milkmachines and BOOM! Everyone goes tits-up in the area...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:37pm

    Re:

    Reads your allegations... looks at your non usage of any sort of name.

    Hands you a pinch/grain of salt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    Niall (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re:

    There's also FEMEN, who mostly do good stuff with their 'publicity'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:05pm

    All this publicity, I can see why her snapper is in trouble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    I saw it!

    It was when Bernard and Bianca flew past it on the back of an albatross.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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