The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Becks clings to image

London, Sept. 24: His face is one of the most recognisable in the world and he has made millions promoting an array of designer products from razors to mobiles. But David Beckham was not so keen to let a national art gallery use his ubiquitous image, according to documents obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

Officials at the National Portrait Gallery, who commissioned a portrait of the former England football captain in the form of a film of him sleeping, had to go to extraordinary lengths to placate him and his representatives, who insisted on unprecedented control over the image.

The documents reveal that Beckham, 31, blocked the sale of postcards in the shop, wanted to limit the artist’s use of the finished work and even decided which images should appear in literature accompanying the exhibition.

The papers also reveal the player declined to take part in a TV show about the commission by artist Sam Taylor-Wood because he apparently “wasn’t at all keen on the exposure”.

Individuals who agree to sit for the gallery, including members of the royal family, normally assign copyright to the gallery and the artist.

The portrait was unveiled in April 2004. Files released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal he fought to secure copyright of the image and made the gallery and artist sign contracts with him and his company, Footwork.

A letter dated January 12, 2004 from Sandy Nairne, the gallery’s director, to a colleague, reveals that staff were bemused by attempts by Beckham to obtain copyright control of the work. He wrote: “The proposed agreements have been set out in the wrong way...The proposed agreement proposes that Sam is engaged by Footwork (on behalf of Beckham) to make the portrait and they would then jointly own the copyright. The proposed licence then grants the exhibition use of the work to the Portrait Gallery with an implication that the ownership of the work remains with Footwork.

“Obviously what should actually be the case is the other way round: that Footwork /Beckham agree to be in a work by Sam and the ownership has to be with the Portrait Gallery.”

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