March 12, 2010

Cabbage Patch Doll Portraits By Andy Warhol

warhol_cabbage_patch_kid.jpg

The list of "baffling things that happened in the 1980s which I was completely unaware of at the time" has grown by one: Andy Warhol was commissioned by Roger Schlaifer to make portraits of Cabbage Patch dolls in 1985.

Schlaifer, an Atlanta licensing executive, acquired the rights to the dolls, changed their name to Cabbage Patch Kids, and wrote the whole adoption backstory with his wife Suzanne Nance in 1982. They were one of the biggest "must-have Christmas toy" frenzies of our generation.

warhol_cabbage_patch_mitt.jpg

Schlaifer sold the rights back to the doll's inventors around 1987-8, who turned them over to Hasbro. Which was right around the time, ten months after Warhol's death, that the Schlaifers' firm, Schlaifer Nance & Co. signed an exclusive licensing deal with the artist's estate. The deal quickly devolved into a tangle of litigation, though, when SNC discovered Warhol's estate did not control the copyright to many of the artist's images. [Actually, lawyers for the estate and the licensor found that, because they didn't follow the copyright policies of the time, many of Warhol's works are in the public domain. This bears some serious looking-into.]

images:
Cabbage Patch Kid silkscreen, 1985, at Jonathan O'Hara Gallery [artnet.com]
Mitterand-Cramer has a pencil sketch of a Cabbage Patch Kid [mitterand-cramer.com]
DECEMBER 1987: FIRST LICENSING DEAL WITH THE WARHOL FOUNDATION IS ANNOUNCED. [warholstars.org]

1 Comment

Interesting stuff. I remember the craziness around the cabbage patch dolls. People wanted these unique little dolls so their children could role-play loving and caring. Unfortunately, sometimes it was their role models who were pushing and shoving trying to get the dolls in the first place.


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