World Erotic Art Museum Sues Man for $2 Million for Taking Pictures

Categories: News
WEAM has had Flickr remove several of Hawk's images.
Have you taken a picture inside Miami Beach's World Erotic Art Museum? It could cost you at least $2 million. Thomas Hawk claims he's being sued by WEAM after snapping a few photos there and posting them on Flickr. The cheeky museum claims it posted a sign prohibiting flash and professional photography. But Hawk says he didn't see the sign and did not use the flash nor were the photographs used in any professional manor.

Update: The museum says that Hawk misrepresented himself as a member of the media and expects him to settle. 

Hawk visited WEAM in March of last year and took hundreds of photographs. The suit claims about 350 of those wound up on his Flickr and says he never asked for permission to take the photographs.

Hawk says he never saw the sign. What's actually particularly strange about this is the suit, or at least the version Hawk posted on his website, never mentions any attempt on the museum's staff part to prevent him from taking pictures.

However, Hawk claims a staffer did ask him about the photographs, and gave him permission to continue.

"One of the employees at the museum in fact approached both me, and my friend Mo, who were taking photos to talk to us about them," writes Hawk on his blog. "He specifically asked me if I was making a book and I said no. He said fine and we continued photographing in the museum at the time."

He also claims he never profited from the photographs, and that Flickr is by definition a non-commercial site. Most of his photographs on Flickr are infact licensed under a non-commercial Creative Commons license.

Update: We talked to Naomi Wilzig, owner and curator of WEAM. She claims the Hawk represented himself as a member of the media. WEAM usually allows members of the media to take pictures inside as long as no images of the more explicit art works are published. She also said, "He's already backing down" and expects to settle the suit. 

Oh, and here for fun is the list of artwork photographed listed in the suit:
1. Replica of chair and ottoman belonging to Catherine the Great of Russia
2. 8 ft tall fiber glass phallus to be used for customers to take a photo souvenir
3. Swarovski crystal penis, created for opening of the museum
4. 8 ft. bed with 4 phallic bedposts, purchased from artist in Germany, one of a kind
5. Metal sculpture of woman taking a shower, commissioned by Wilzig
6. Telephone wire nude male commissioned by Wilzig
7. Painting of men emerging from female genitalia, commissioned by Wilzig
8. Statue reflecting Naomi Wilzig image on wall, created for her
9. Set of 8 female figure statues, lifelike in lesbian poses
10. Double glass penis by Tom Doner gift to Wilzig
11. Oil, French prostitute street scene, Sylvain Laine
12. Oil, French orgy theatre scene, Sylvain Laine
13. Bronze penis ball, from Hawaii
14. Mata Ortize pottery vase, by Adrian Corona Trillo
15. Erotic Devil jug with phallic spout by Randy Tobias
16. Watercolor titled "Three's a Crowd: by Ken Unsworth
17. Day of the dead skeleton with large penis
18. Painting of male figure with red fingernail hand clutching genital area, by Dulce
19. Bronze statue of a black Eve
20. Quartz slice with erotic figure carved inside by H. Friedler
21. Multimedia wall sculpture titled "perpetual emotion" by Studio Szabries
22. Wall plaque with a hundred vulva sculptures by Doug Johns
23. Sculpture of female with large vulva titled "Leaping Vulva" by Doug Johns
24. Totem pole wood and poly chrome from Pierre
25. Watercolor of male and female centaurs making love, Bud Wehrheim
26. Oil painting of spouting phallus by Tanka Gabriliants
27. Viola sculpted into a female figure, by Andrew Giarnella
28. Drawing of surreal figure pleasuring himself, Daniel Hanequand
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Thomas Hawk was actually kicked out of the Jewish Museum on South Beach by Miami Beach Police the same day he photographed at the World Erotic Art Museum for not following the photography policies. His blog is full of false information.


Thomas Hawk has been police escorted out of museums in the past and has a history of looking for trouble. Kyle should have actually looked up some facts before writing this slanderous piece.


Thomas sure seems to get in a lot of trouble shooting - Seems to seek it out :-(

Gary Denness
Gary Denness

I've followed this story this afternoon. Naomi's law suit seems to be more full of sleaze than her museum. As a photographer, I find her and her actions offensive. If anyone feels the same, they have a Facebook Page with a wall to let them know...


PXLated that's utter crap. Thomas Hawk is one of the most followed and respected photo-bloggers in the entire country. The fact that of late all photographers are coming under fire for simply taking pictures is the real issue here, and Thomas Hawk never does anything illegal. the man not taking made-up lawsuits and other fake allegations thrown at him due to the fact that he's a photographer isn't seeking anything out- its standing up for himself. he is very prolific and travels to shoot constantly so he is exposed to more harassment by more people that dont know the rules and try to make them up to cover for their lack of knowledge and general idiocy. WEAM filed FALSE DMCA requests and when Hawk protested, they sued him. They hired a firm that specializes in settlements, and have already proclaimed their hope of a massive financial victory. not supporting Thomas Hawk in this matter is your opinion- but how would you feel if somebody tried to destroy your hard work simply becuase they dont like you standing up for yourself? This is a shakedown , pure and simple. In the future please take the time to learn about the issue before hurting all artists by throwing around reckless statements at the very ones' who champion our rights and put themselves in legal harms way to stand up to this legal bullying.

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