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.

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Companies: empire state building

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Comments on “Empire State Building Supposedly Sues Photographer Over Photograph Of Topless Woman”

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DannyB (profile) says:

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.

Pragmatic says:

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?

out_of_the_blue says:

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?


Gwiz (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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?!?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: 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.)

Pragmatic says:

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.

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